RIVERSIDE, Calif.—When Melissa Sanchez saw the 951 area code pop up on her phone a few months ago, she had a feeling it was someone from UC Riverside.
However, she wasn't expecting the news that awaited her. Sanchez, who graduated from UCR in 2006, would be inducted into the 2018 Athletics Hall of Fame.
Sanchez, a standout on the softball team from 2003-06, is in the Highlanders' top-10 all-time for batting average, games played, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, slugging, and on-base percentage.
"I was in shock," Sanchez said. "It is a big thing. I know I did well, but I never would have thought it would have put me into such elite company."
Along with Sanchez, Larry Cunningham (men's basketball), David Finley (baseball), Fred Morawczski (football) and the 1982 baseball team will receive the highest honors during the induction ceremony on Nov. 16 at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in downtown Riverside.
Sanchez played at UCR just a few years after it transitioned into a Division I school, so she knew how important the success of the softball program would be to the athletic department.
Sanchez, a local product from Rosemead, was lucky enough to have her parents come to almost every home game during her four years playing for the university. She said both of her parents started to cry when she told them she had been inducted.
Her 26 home runs and 116 RBIs for the Highlanders rank first all-time. Also, Sanchez earned three Big West All-Conference first team honors along with one Big West All-Conference second team selection.
The four years of playing collegiate softball may have put some wear and tear on her body, including arthritis in her knee, but she wouldn't change any of it.
"That time helped me grow and learn who I was," Sanchez said. "When you are in that moment, cherish it, that freedom. It will prepare you for the rest of your life."