St. Mary's Ryken rising senior Coombs throws out first pitch at Washington Nationals game
Published by The Enterprise on July 10, 2019
By COLIN STOECKER
When St. Mary’s Ryken High School rising senior Melody Coombs was asked to throw out the first pitch before the Washington Nationals’ contest against the Philadelphia Phillies as part of Washington Catholic Athletic Conference night on June 20 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., she said yes even though she wasn’t a pitcher.
Coombs, a shortstop, chose to throw the ball overhand, going against the customary underhand pitch for softball pitchers. And it was a strike.
“It was amazing and so awesome,” she said. “It just felt like all the time I put in just paid off. It was really good because I don’t think last year I did get this recognition. It was awesome, it was good. I can’t really pitch underhand at all. I’m not a pitcher, I play shortstop.”
She added: “I was so nervous, I did practice the day before. I was like, ‘I know how to do it now.’ I just went out there. All of my family and a couple of friends were watching. The Nationals were playing Bryce Harper’s new team, the Phillies, so there was that.”
As a junior this past year, she was named The Enterprise’s softball Athlete of the Year as well as WCAC player of the year.
“I’m a college softball watcher, but I’ve seen MLB teams like the Nationals,” Coombs said. “I like Florida State. It was awesome because I feel like usually it is seniors who are honored, it was nice and really good.”
Coombs was still excited about beating rival Bishop O’Connell (Virginia) in the WCAC championship in May, something that hasn’t happened for Knights softball in a long time.
She hit two home runs in the final, the second coming in extra innings to give the team the lead for good.
“It was awesome because we always lost to Bishop O’Connell and it’s always been a really good game. We deserved it this year and worked very hard,” she said.
St. Mary’s Ryken head coach Stephanie Dameron was excited for Coombs in getting this opportunity to throw out the first pitch.
“I had been approached after our season and BJ Pumroy [our former athletic director] said that Melody had been invited to throw the first pitch at the game,” Dameron said. “It was a huge honor for her and the program and we were excited to send her to throw the first pitch. I wasn’t there, but from videos I received from staff that were there I think she threw a strike. She just didn’t throw our style.”
Dameron was proud of all that Coombs and she had accomplished this past season. In addition to being the most honored player on the St. Mary’s Ryken varsity softball team, Dameron said that Coombs has a great work ethic.
“[The WCAC player of the year award] was a unanimous selection which speaks to her character to be voted by the other coaches in the WCAC as she starts transitioning into what her game could look like at the college level,” Dameron said. “She’s a very versatile athlete and works extremely hard and is talented. I know she is definitely going to go onto to play Division I college ball. I know she has been talking to Penn State, but she has not signed her National Letter of Intent yet and will do that in the fall or winter.”
Dameron is excited to share the experience of getting one of her players signed to play college ball with Coombs.
“She really pushes herself to a high standard and does that with her teammates as well,” Dameron said. “She is one of the those players that instills greatness as one of the leaders and someone that we want to come from our program. We want to build that culture.”
Winning the WCAC title was a dream come true for Dameron, and something she had wanted to do since she played at St. Mary’s Ryken.
“It was pretty awesome,” she said. “I played against O’Connell at Ryken, and this past year winning it and sending out our seniors with a bang was great. We had a young team talent wise and it’s cool for the seniors to show the sophomores and freshman what it’s like to win the WCAC. Melody and the rising seniors have seen what it takes to win a championship.”
Dameron hopes to continue last year’s success next season.
“With winning any type of championship, it puts a bull’s-eye on your back and me and the girls want to prove that we are just at talented,” she said. “That pressure will be good.”
Coombs hopes to continue her success in her last year with the Knights before she heads off to play Division I softball in college.
“I hope to get another championship and do good things,” said Coombs. “I’m going to Penn State. I committed to Syracuse first. ... I loved Penn State and it was closer to home and seemed to fit me and was good. Right now it’s just verbal, but the next step is signing.”
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