Washington High School Graduate and Massillon Resident Dan Melito is
Baldwin Wallace University’s Hitting Machine
By: Matthew Florjancic
BEREA, OHIO -- Baldwin Wallace University junior outfielder Dan Melito, a resident of Massillon and graduate of Washington High School, hit a pair of homeruns in his first varsity baseball game. He hasn’t stopped hitting yet.
As a freshman, Melito did not make the Yellow Jacket spring trip to Ft. Myers, Florida and he didn’t like being left out, so he decided that he’d make up for it by letting his bat do the talking. Every time an opposing pitcher threw the ball, Melito had his sights on setting it into orbit.
"I was extremely disappointed in not making the trip," said Melito, who appeared in 28 varsity games and hit .380 with seven doubles, a triple five home runs and 21 RBI his first year in Berea as the Yellow Jackets finished 24-17 overall and 12-6 in the OAC. "I knew that I would get a chance when they got back from Florida and I was determined to make a difference."
Melito, a 21-year-old, was introduced to baseball at a young age.
"I started playing baseball when I was five," said Melito, a sports medicine and pre-physical therapy major at BW. "My dad taught me how to play along with my brother Mike.
"My brother let me play with him and his friends all the time when we were little," said Melito. "Playing with older kids made me a better player. I like to compete and they made me a better competitor too."
Melito started his high school career at Massillon Perry but decided to transfer to Washington High School during his freshman year. He lettered in baseball three times and once in basketball in the Tiger Orange & Black.
During his sophomore year, Melito experienced one of his greatest baseball memories.
"My favorite high school memory was beating Perry in the semifinal game of the District (OHSAA) Tournament," said Melito. "I went three-for-four in that game and helped us win. The Perry-Washington rivalry is a big one and it is always nice to play well in that game and against opponents who also happen to be your friends too."
As a senior, Melito hit .324 and tallied nine doubles. He also served as a team captain, batted third in the lineup and played in the middle of the infield. Melito’s efforts on the diamond garnered him several honors.
He earned a Golden Glove Award as a senior. Melito was also the recipient of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award and was selected to play in the Hank Miller All-Star Classic.
Melito’s statistics and style of play attracted the attention of the BW coaching staff.
"We knew coming out of Massillon that he was a good player," said veteran Yellow Jacket Head Coach Dr. Bob Fisher, who won his 600th career game this season on BW’s spring trip to Ft. Myers, Fla. "Everyone we talked with in Stark County said Dan could hit
"Then you check into his academic record and find out that he is a very solid student too," said Fisher. "You are not going to pass up a young man and player with talent and potential like his."
After looking at several other Ohio Athletic Conference colleges, Melito decided BW was the place to receive a great education and play baseball at the same time.
Coach Fisher was excited when Melito decided on BW. He knows BW got a tremendous player.
"We were happy he selected us [BW]," said Fisher. "He could play anywhere, Division I, II or III. He has a solid bat, plays excellent defense and has a strong arm. He has all of the tools to be an outstanding baseball player, and he has shown that he is one of the best in the OAC."
When Melito got to BW, he felt baseball and his new teammates helped him adapt to the college lifestyle.
"Playing baseball made it [the transition from high school to college] easy because I made a lot of new friends," Melito said. "Pat Gallagher [a senior catcher from Wooster Senior H.S.] took me under his wing. Pat is a veteran and a team-leader so I just stuck close to him."
Then his freshman season began and he did not make the spring trip travel roster.
"I thought, how could I help this team win a conference title," said Melito, who is currently batting .441 with five doubles and one homer despite missing five games with a hamstring injury that he suffered on the southern trip. "I just thought about what I needed to do to get this team to the top, where I wanted to be."
In addition, one Melito’s fondest memories from his freshman year at BW came in a game against perennial NCAA Division III and OAC power Marietta College.
"My favorite memory of college was hitting a grand slam at Marietta," said Melito. "Marietta is a big rival to BW and it [the grad slam] helped me build confidence in myself at this level. I have always been a confident hitter but at each level you play, you know the competition is better and better. Hits like that give you a comfort level at that next level and propel you to the top of that level."
Melito’s abilities and statistical success led the BW coaching staff to name him as its "Freshman of the Year."
"As a freshman, Dan really came on once we returned from Florida and made a definite impact on the varsity," said Fisher. "He has hit the ball well ever since and is a key to our program. He is leader both on and off the field."
Melito also was honored to be selected as the "Freshman of the Year."
"When I first came to BW, I never knew what the coaches really thought of my game," Melito said. "I knew if I got a shot to play that I could help the team succeed."
Melito’s teammates noticed his on-the-field performance and learned to respect his game.
"Dan works hard and expects a lot from his teammates," said junior second baseman Kevin Brown. "He has a great sense of leadership. He knows the game of baseball and how to be an effective leader."
"The thing that stands out is the way he leads by example," said senior relief pitcher and outfielder Nick Slater of Wooster and a graduate of Norwayne High School. "As a player, his dedication to winning and being as perfect as possible set him aside."
During his sophomore season, Melito batted .342 with 40 hits, including 13 doubles, one triple and five homers. He also scored 27 runs and was second on the team with RBI as BW finished 20-14 overall and 9-8 in the OAC. These stats led to Melito being named as a second-team All-OAC player.
Despite the accolade, Melito feels he did not reach his full potential.
"I was a little disappointed in the year I had, knowing that I could have played a lot better," said Melito. "Being named second-team All-OAC was a big accomplishment."
Coach Fisher was pleased with Melito’s selection to the second team.
"Anytime our kids get recognition, we feel great," said Fisher, who enters a Saturday (April 9) doubleheader at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio with 606 career wins. "That’s super for them and it’s always good for the program."
As this season began, Melito set many goals for himself as well as the team. "Individually, my goals are to hit better than .400 and have more than 16 doubles (the current BW single-season record). As a team, I want BW to win the OAC title and beat the single-season school-record for wins in a season (currently 25)."
Melito also has some unique superstitions while he is on the field.
"At the end of the warm-up, I act like a pitcher and throw six pitches," Melito said. "I tape my wrists before a game, but if I make an out in my the first two at-bats, I take the tape off."
After his career in the Brown & Gold of BW is over, Melito wants to be remembered for his performance on and off the field.
"I want to be remembered as a student-athlete who worked hard in the classroom and on the baseball diamond."
With his current career batting average of .377 and a better than 3.0 grade point average, you can continue to figure that Melito, at the very least, will hit the ball and the books for at least another year and a half!
Following its twinbill at ONU on Saturday, BW returns to Berea and will play OAC and Cleveland cross-town rival John Carroll University next Tuesday (April 12) in an OAC doubleheader at Heritage Field at 1:00 p.m. and then travels to Hiram for a single game next Thursday at 3:30 p.m.