Megan Morese named The Villanovan Athlete of the Year

Alex Gallucci

Thomas Edison once said, “There is no substitute for hard work.” It’s a concept that all successful athletes understand, but one by which only a select few seek to live. Although hard work alone does not guarantee a winning record, an athlete’s ability to combine it with talent is the driving force when championships are to be won, records are to be broken and game-winning points are to be scored.

If there is one distinguishing feature of senior softball player Meghan Morese, it is her tireless work ethic – an attribute that has driven her to incomparable success both on and off the field. It is for this that she has been chosen as The Villanovan’s Athlete of the Year for 2009.

The statistics speak for themselves. As of April 28, Morese was leading her team in nearly every offensive category. In 47 games, she has nothced 51 hits, six homeruns, 31 RBIs and a staggering .341 batting average.

Although Morese grew up playing basketball and volleyball too, her heart was always in softball, as she started playing her first games at the age of five. A California native, Morese was a four-year starter for the Laguna Hills Varsity Softball team. Besides earning MVP and Woman Athlete of the Year as a senior, Morese was also named All-League three years in a row, all while keeping up a flawless academic record. Her academic success led her to achieve several honors in her senior year that included the Medallion Award for Mathematics and the Medallion Scholar and Academic Achievement Awards.

“Meghan is an incredibly hard worker both on the field and in the classroom; she will work for hours upon end to perfect the skill in which she might be slightly deficient,” said Head Coach Maria DiBernardi.

As early as her freshman year, Morese’s name was a favorite on the leader boards. She finished the season at the top of the roster in batting average (.364), hits (64), doubles (16), home runs (11) and RBIs (39).

Her .411 average in Big East play set her in fifth place in the conference. In her rookie season, her career in record-breaking also caught a glimpse of its continued future successes as she hit her 11th home run to establish a new school single season record.

“Morese’s talent was unmistakable, and it was obvious right away that she would be a valuable asset in several dimensions of the field,” DiBernardi said. “You could see her potential when she came in. She’s a pure hitter and she’s very athletic. I recognized right away that she was on her way to setting school records.”

In her sophomore year, Morese played and started in all 57 games for the Wildcats. While her batting average was not a season-best, she continued to lead the Wildcats in RBIs, and had 10 multiple hit games. As per her freshman year, she was also named as a member of the Big East Academic All Star Team – an honor that she successfully kept up as an electrical engineer during her four years at Villanova.

Morese is not only a leader with respect to team records; she is also one of the team’s captains – a role that her teammates and coaches would agree she has taken on successfully.

“Meghan is a quiet leader; she leads by example,” DiBernardi said. “When something has to be said, she says it, and she leads by her hustle and determination.”

The most memorable moment of her softball career came in the spring of 2008, when Morese hit the 27th run of her career that tied Villanova’s career home runs record in a win over Temple. She ended her junior season impressively with only two errors, and was later named to the second team All-Northeast Region squad of the Big East.

Morese has now well surpassed the home run record, but this fact has not stopped her from making the most of her senior season. In the Wildcats’ recent game against Towson, Morese’s first at-bat turned into her 200th career hit. She now stands as Villanova’s ninth all-time career hitter, and she’s just six doubles away from becoming the leader in that category as well.

Despite all the concern with records, Morese says she’s more focused on enjoying the time she has left with her team. When asked what she would remember about Villanova softball when she was no longer young and agile enough to swing a bat, Morese said that this season undoubtedly qualified as the best one in her four years – a feat she credits to her coaches, who seemed to push the team harder than ever.

“I will remember my teammates – how well we meshed both on and off the field, the close games we won and our hard work throughout the season,” Morese said.

Like any senior athlete, ending the last season will be tough emotionally, but Morese will be without regrets.

“I’m sad in realizing that this is the last time I’ll be playing on this type of competitive level. I’m trying to make every at-bat my last one, and hopefully remember it that way,” Morese said.

In fact, Morese is not the only one who is sad that she will be graduating.

“This has been one of the nicest teams I’ve coached in 25 years,” DiBernardi said. “It’s one of those seasons that I hate to see end, and it’s because we had such wonderful leadership from our captains.”