May 3, 2006
When Melissa Wood steps up to the plate for her turn at bat, onlookers become baffled by her demeanor. The huge smile she wears on her face while preparing to hit is what confuses her opponents and distinguishes her from every other player on the field. “I don’t smile to mock the pitcher,” said the sophomore catcher from Lilburn, Ga. “I’m just happy to hit.” Better known to the world as Moe, the 20-year-old elementary education student’s, happy-go-lucky attitude extends off the field as well.
Her witty demeanor inspired her to personify one of her most valued possessions, her bike. “I named my old bike Sharlene,” said Wood. She can remember only one unpleasant occurrence while riding Sharlene. “I fell off,” said Wood. “I was in the middle of campus and I fell off of her. It was so embarrassing.” Sharlene may have caused some bumps, bruises and humiliation but Wood still regarded her as a friend.
When the bond between Sharlene and Wood was at its height, tragedy struck. “Somebody stole Sharlene,” said Wood. “I was at practice and they (members of the softball team) said Sharlene wasn’t on the bike rack. When I went out to look, I saw she was gone.” Though Wood was saddened by the theft she recovered rather quickly. “After that I got a mini moped,” Wood cheerfully stated. “I like it (the nameless moped) a lot better than Sharlene, but don’t tell her that.”
Wood has an amiable personality, but her quirky manner changes the moment she steps onto the field. “Off the field I am a goofy, weird, retro kid. But when I take the field I’m very serious,” said Wood. This seriousness allowed Wood to start 59 of the 60 games she played last season, become a member of the Second-Team All-ACC and earn a spot on the FSU Invitational All-Tournament team.
Though Wood had a great freshman year, she is determined to do better this season. “I’m happy with my homeruns and RBIs (from last year) but this year I want to bat over .300.”
Wood’s performance during her rookie season garnered the respect of her teammates. “I am very vocal. I’m not afraid to give my opinion and sometimes my teammates respect my opinion. I only say the things I say because I care about everyone on the team.” Because she cares about her team and the sport, she has made up in her mind to be a better athlete this year and there are two things she vows to do before every game to prepare her to take the field. “I like to listen to my iPod and watch the film from previous games.”
Although Wood watches old footage in order to perfect her game, she declares that this year she won’t be focusing on what the majority of spectators deem as the most important part of the game; she will be concentrating on the minutia. “Many people look at home runs but I look at the smaller stuff. This year I will be focusing on hits and making sacrifices for the team.”
As early as she can remember, Wood has been playing softball in Seminole colors. One of her early memories is one of playing softball in the front yard with grandfather, dressed in Garnet & Gold. Even though softball is a family tradition for the Wood family, her mother Danette played at Georgia State University, it was the team aspect of the sport that persuaded Wood to stick with softball.
“I used to run track but it wasn’t as fun because there was no team,” Wood noted. Even though success stems from everyone playing as one unit, there are times when individualism is inevitable during this team sport. “My team can’t help me when I’m up at bat, during that time I’m all alone.”
While it is easiest to recognize Wood when she assumes her stance at the plate, fans will most often see her sandwiched between the hitter and the umpire as the Seminoles’ catcher. “I’m comfortable in this position. Even the equipment has become comfortable. There have been times I’ve been about to get in my car and I’ll realize I’m still wearing my equipment.”
This forgetful, self-proclaimed “70’s kid who loves tie die” enjoys going to Tallahassee Movies 8 every Tuesday to see the 50 cent films and admits she is still looking for her prince charming. “I don’t have a boyfriend right now. I’m searching for a tall, dark-haired man with a good sense of humor who knows how to do taxes.”