In a family where athletes seem to grow on trees, junior infielder Jenna Meluso has risen to stardom at Montclair State University.
It’s not often you find a family with one collegiate athlete, never mind multiple. Meluso’s sister, Nikole Meluso, played volleyball at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and her cousin, Alexa Saccomano, plays softball at Rowan University.
And to top it all off, her uncle Joe Saccomanno is a baseball hall of fame member at Bloomfield College and even got drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 61st round of the 1988 MLB June Amateur Draft. It’s safe to say the baseball and softball ability runs in the family.
The Red Hawks are currently sitting with an overall record of 18-11 and only 2-6 in conference play. However, with the combination of elite pitching and a high-powered offense, they are confident they can compete with anyone, including the entire New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
“I have a lot of confidence [in the team],” Meluso said. “Before conference games, we really gelled really well. We had a really good team energy and I think that is kind of what makes a difference going into the remainder of the season.”
Prior to suffering an undisclosed injury on April 5 at Kean University, Meluso was having as good of a season as anyone in the entire NJAC. With a batting average of .494, she still ranks as the best hitter in the conference and also ranks among or at the top in other categories such as on-base plus slugging (OPS), hits and doubles.
Head coach of the softball team Anita Kubicka recognizes the impact Meluso has on the team with her position. And how much that impact can turn negative when an injury takes her out of the action.
“Jenna is a team leader,” Kubicka said. “Her injury has a tremendous impact on the team. Jenna is a top-of-the-order hitter who could really put a charge in the ball.”
Throughout the season, Meluso had many multi-hit games, however, none of them compared to an outing on March 20 at DeSales University. Meluso accumulated four hits with two of them being doubles, two RBIs and one run scored during an 8-1 victory.
Meluso believes because she knew this would be her final season due to her graduating early, along with the multitude of honors she has won throughout her career, that she was able to play at an even higher level than ever before.
“Just the energy going into it,” Meluso said. “Kind of knowing that this was the last opportunity I had to really make an impact, it kind of motivated me to keep my energy up and have a short memory for failures and a long memory for success.”
The 2022 season is shaping up to be her best yet, senior catcher Danielle Sibilio considers Meluso a phenomenal teammate and an even better person for this ball club.
“It’s been the best, I think,” Sibilio said. “I came in when she was a freshman so it was my first year too. She’s always hardworking, always gets there early, gets things done and does everything how it should be. She’s just like a staple on the field.”
Even Sibilio was mesmerized at times this season by the way Meluso played.
“She was batting second and I would get ready to go to bat because I was fourth and I just knew that she would get on base somehow,” Sibilio said. “And it was just insane, I would just watch it and she would get a double.”
Every team, no matter the sport, needs a player like Meluso. Someone who always gets the job done on and off the field while being a great leader is all a coach ever asks for.
“She defines student-athlete,” Kubicka said. “She is the type of player a coach wants to have as part of their program. Big heart, great teammate willing to raise her other teammates up.”