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Elite 2029 Prospect Spotlight: Laila "Cheeze" Mejia: C/UTL; Beverly Bandits - Perry; 1.7 Pop Time

Interview by Ronald Jackson, Legacy & Legends Softball, VP

Name: Lalia O. Mejia

Nickname: Cheeze

Hometown: Centerville, OH

Grad Year: 2029

GPA: 4.00

Travel Team: Beverly Bandits Perry

High School: Centerville High School

Positions: Catcher/Utility

Height: 5' 3"

Bat/Throw: Right/Right

Pop Times: 1.77 (In Game)

Overhand Velocity: 62 mph

Exit Velocity off Tee: 73.6 mph

Home to First or 20 yds: 3.1

Intended Study Major: Medicine/Sports Law

Email: Lalia.Mejia2029@Gmail

Twitter: @LaliaMejia08

Instagram: LaliaMejia08

Who are you?

I'm an Army brat who grew up always on the move with my dad and grandma, as well as a dedicated high level softball student athlete. I'm an athletic and coachable player who always wants to win. I try to be a leader on and off the field, leading by example and choosing the hard right over the easy wrong (my dad says that saying). Outside of softball I love to hang out with family and watch movies & tv shows.

2024 USSSA S30 Championship Battery; Pitcher Cami Diaz (64+ mph Fastball)

How did your softball journey begin?

I started off with tee ball at Fort Rucker, AL where I wore catcher's gear for the first time. I Moved on to coach pitch with the Enterprise Sweeties, where I made it to the All-Star team and the state championship. After the All-Star team I fell in love with the sport and knew I wanted to keep going. I asked my dad about playing more and he found an 8u tryout where I tried out but didn't make the team. It was heartbreaking but motivated me to work even harder.

First T-Ball game and first time I put on the catcher's gear.  Love at first catch!

What are your greatest strengths as a softball player?

In my opinion my greatest strengths would be my work ethic and softball IQ. Since I work hard I have a strong arm and swing, as well as exceptional catching skills. As for my softball IQ I have all my coaches to thank, especially my coach Alesha Perry who has spent a huge amount of time on teaching my teammates and I about the game.

Homerun Number 4 playing in a local league near Dayton, OH

What kind of hitter are you and what are your most recent offensive stats?

I feel like I'm a mix of a contact and a power hitter, I'm dependable on a two strike count and usually put the ball in play when the team needs it. During our last PGF tournament I batted a .438 average, seven hits, 1 HR, 2 triples, 1 double, and 8 RBIs.

Homerun Number 3 vs Batbusters team against a solid pitcher with a killer change up!

What is your favorite sports memory and greatest achievement?

If I had to choose, my favorite sports memory would probably be when I got the call from Coach Madison that I made the Beverly Bandits. For my greatest achievement I'd have to say it's my selection at the HPP identifier to attend the National Selection Event.

PGF Northern Super Select Champions (2nd PGF win in a row)

How do you handle adversity and even failure?

When I'm faced with adversity, I make sure to remind myself of all my training just so I know I'm able to get through it and am confident in myself. When failure comes along since it always does in this sport, I usually recognize my mistake and know what to work on or how to fix it for next time. I like to listen to The Bulletproof Hitter before games which gets me in the right mindset.

1.7 Pop Time

How would your teammates and friends describe you?

I think my teammates would describe me as passionate for the game, a hard worker, a good teammate, and maybe a little nuts for my pregame warm up routine.

Who is your role-model and or idol and why?

My role-model would have to be Keagan Rothrock. She used to be my pitching coach when I still pitched. I admire all of her hard work and determination and I hope to follow in her footsteps. Everything she does and has done is the exact path I hope to take.

Homerun number 2; launched 220+ feet to LF vs a top ranked pitcher (#22 Line D media)

If you could spend a day with any softball player, former or current, who would it be and why?

If I could spend a day with any softball player former or current it'd be Aubree Munro. I chose her because she's also a catcher and has an incredible pop time. I’d want to hear all about her techniques and how her catching came to be so awesome.

PGF Midwest Super Select Champions

What is your softball dream/goal?

My overall dream would be to make it to the Olympics for Team USA Softball team and play at the University of Florida.

Most recent of 3 in a row PGF wins

When deciding on what college team to play for what are the most important things you’re looking for? Is it location, academics, conference, championship winning history, school reputation, coaching staff, team chemistry, weather, school colors etc?

Oooh that's a hard one. I've always wanted to go to the University of Florida because Keagan Rothrock and my dad were/are Gators. I was also born in Florida so it reminds me of home. I did hear they have a great academic program for tons of different majors.

Showing off the wheels

What is your favorite jersey number and why did you choose it?

My favorite number is number 8. Number 8 is just my number, I was born the 8th month, at 8 o'clock at night, I weighed 8 lbs. My best friends' numbers add up to 8, so many 8s it has to mean something!

What other hobbies do you have to balance out softball and your personal life?

I recently tried track and loved it! Track helps me improve my athleticism, I get to spend time with friends, and makes me a better softball player. I also like to read and watch baseball with my dad.

Gold medal/1st place in the Girls Middle School discus

Who would you like to thank for your softball achievements and support?

Oooh so many people. First off, my dad for making softball possible, pushing me, and believing in me. Coach Jim Miller (my 9U-10U coach) and my Canes teammates for supporting and giving me an opportunity to play on the Canes which helped develop the foundation of my success today. Alesha Perry and Tina Madison for giving me a chance to play with the best, the Beverly Bandits as well as helping take my skills to the next level. My Bandit teammates and families for cheering me on, supporting me through my ups and downs, and for being my family!

Cheeze with her dad as he attends US Army aviation flight school in Fort Rucker, Alabama to be a Blackhawk pilot. He always came home and played/practiced with Cheeze no matter how much he had to study and he sang her to sleep every night.

Additional Information About Cheeze

Walk up Song: Imperial March (Darth Vader Song)

Favorite Food: poke bowls

Favorite Song: Romeo and Juliet

Favorite Music Artist: Killers

Favorite Sports Team: The Marlins

Favorite Sports Celebrity: JT Realmuto (catcher for the Phillies)

Favorite Movie: Hardball

Favorite Sports Movie: Rookie of the Year

Favorite TV Show: Young Sheldon

Favorite Book: Miscalculations of Lightening Girl

Favorite Travel Spot: Savannah, Georgia

Favorite Quote: "Death to the opposition" (it's a motivational thing from Star Trek my dad showed me to help me compete)

Coach Alicia Perry: "Everybody here knows you can hit, you just need to believe it."

Coach Alicia's mom on starting a rally: "You're the fire starter for the team!"

Story by Ronald Jackson, VP, Legacy & Legends Softball, June 1st, 2024

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