Regina softball standout signs to play at Penn State

By: Jason Carmel Davis | C&G Newspapers | Published November 30, 2017

 Warren Regina senior softball standout Melina Livingston, center, is flanked by her parents, Deanna and Kevin, Nov. 21 as she signs to play at Penn State University.

Warren Regina senior softball standout Melina Livingston, center, is flanked by her parents, Deanna and Kevin, Nov. 21 as she signs to play at Penn State University.

Photo courtesy of Warren Regina High School

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP/WARREN — All the hours of hard work and practice have paid off for Warren Regina infielder Melina Livingston. The Saddlelites’ senior softball standout signed Nov. 21 to play at Penn State University.

She heads to State College in the fall.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Livingston, who is a Harrison Township resident. “I really like the atmosphere and the culture around the school. Everyone is always happy. That’s why they call it ‘Happy Valley.’ I really like the coaches; they promote having a good culture around the team, and they want good, well-rounded people on the team.”

Livingston joins the list of a number of standout Regina softball players to sign with Division I schools. That includes 2017 graduate Jessica Munson (Oakland University) and 2015 graduate Gina Munson (Central Michigan University). Prior to Livingston, the last Saddlelites player to sign with a Big Ten school was star pitcher Nikki Nemitz, who signed with the University of Michigan in 2006.

Livingston, who carries a 4.0 grade-point average and plans to major in biology, also considered Miami (Ohio) University and Philadelphia’s La Salle University. She said the sense of warmth surrounding Penn State pushed the school to the top of her list.

“In State College, the whole community rallies around the school,” said Livingston, who will play infield and outfield at Penn State. “There’s just a great deal of focus on the students, and the way everyone there values academics is amazing. Coming out of college with a degree from Penn State sets you up in the world with a lot of opportunities.”

Regina softball coach and Athletic Director Diane Laffey commended Livingston for her efforts.

“Melina is an outstanding student, and a leader both on the field and in the classroom,” Laffey said. “She has worked very hard to become an outstanding third baseman for our team. She led the team in batting average and in home runs last season. We are looking forward to great things from her this year in her senior season.”

Livingston’s academic and athletic prowess have given her the opportunity to continue her softball career at a strong institution.

Livingston, who last season earned First Team All-State honors from the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association, is a four-year varsity member for the Saddlelites. As a freshman, Livingston was part of a team that won a Division 1 state title. As a junior, Livingston hit .689 and mashed 13 home runs to help the team win the Catholic High School League A-B tournament championship.

“I really enjoy the game for what it is,” Livingston said. “I like the tactical part. I like having to think about where the ball is going to go, thinking before things happen. It’s awesome.”

Livingston, who as a swimmer with Regina is a four-time state finals qualifier, also plays for the Michigan Finesse travel team. The squad earned two top-10 finishes this past summer. In August, Livingston helped her team capture a U16 national title at the Amateur Softball Association/USA Softball Junior Olympic Cup.

The Regina standout isn’t scared to battle for playing time, either. Livingston said Penn State coaches prefer for incoming players to battle for live reps.

“They don’t want anybody coming in expecting to play, so everyone keeps working hard,” Livingston said. “I play infield for Regina, but I’m primarily an outfielder. I’ll play anywhere.”

Livingston credited her coaches — at Regina and with the travel team — for pushing to make her a better player and person. Livingston said Laffey has been great, saying the longtime Regina coach has helped make her a better person and player, and ensures that she gives back to the community.

Livingston will be a ways away from the community she calls home. She said it will be difficult to adjust at first, but she’s confident that she’ll be OK.

“I’m pretty family oriented. It’s only about a six-and-a-half hour drive, so it’s not too bad,” Livingston said. “But having the team around me once I get there will definitely help. They’ll become a part of my family and help integrate me into the culture of the school.”

Before she embarks on a new adventure, Livingston wants one last strong run with her Saddlelites teammates. She said she’s focused on enjoying her last season of prep softball.

“I’m excited about having one last chance to be at home and play with my classmates,” Livingston said. “Hopefully, we can make it back and win the CHSL title and have a successful season.”

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