Most Viewed Stories
Honkers team picks birthday girl for Sweetheart title
You couldn't keep the smile off birthday girl Meliah Triplett's face if you tried.
The Yuba City High School baseball team named Triplett as the team Sweetheart on Saturday at home plate at Winship Field prior to a scrimmage.
With hugs from every player and a five-foot balloon arrangement presented by coach Dave Rodriguez, Triplet's 20th birthday couldn't have been any brighter.
"I think she will never forget this," said Marshall Triplett, her baseball-playing brother. "This is what she dreams of."
Meliah, who is in her fifth year at Yuba City High, said she is proud of the players for recognizing her as the team Sweetheart and thinks of them as brothers.
Mary Triplett, Meliah's mother, said that most guys overlook Meliah because she has Down syndrome, but the baseball team treats her like anyone else. "It brings tears to my eyes how good they are to her," she said.
Meliah said senior catcher Cooper Goldby is her favorite ballplayer.
"Cooper is crazy about me," Meliah said.
Goldby said he is honored that Meliah calls him her favorite ballplayer. That's better than an MVP title or championship, he said.
"She inspires me a lot. If I'm negative on the field or if we just lost a championship game, she is always there to cheer me up," Goldby said.
Marshall said that at home Meliah talked about being the baseball Sweetheart, and on Saturday that dream became a reality. Marshall talked with the team, and the members quickly decided the surprise would be a great idea.
Coach Rodriguez said it was easy to support the idea to recognize Meliah as the team Sweetheart.
"It is special because anytime you have young men who know the importance of doing something like this, it shows their character. There are more important things than baseball," he added.
When Meliah was born, Mary said she knew immediately that Meliah had Down syndrome.
"I was devastated," Mary said. "I'm really ashamed of that now."
Meliah was also born with a small hole in her heart that requires checkups every six months.
"Meliah's first step or first time doing anything was a miracle," Mary said.
Meliah grew up playing baseball and dancing and hugging anyone she could. She likes watching baseball because she played the game for three years.
"My favorite part was throwing the ball and playing third base," she said.
Meliah has been taking jazz classes at Jacque's Dance Expressions for nine years and tap for a decade.
"I like to perform in front of people," she said.
Meliah also enjoys going to the park, eating out and spending time with family and friends at football and baseball games.
Meliah fondly remembers playing hide-and-seek with Goldby during football season.
The pair recently started playing an online word-building game called Words with Friends. Goldby said Meliah challenged him to a game and told him she was going to beat him. He said she comes up with some nifty words.
Meliah said her favorite part of school is physical education and still beams when talking how coach Jim Stassi gave her a piggyback ride last year.
"She is one of those kids that proved to everyone that she may be different but that won't stop her from achieving what she wants to achieve," said physical education teacher Natalie Page.
"Meliah brings me presents and tells me they are from my mom who passed away last year," Mary said.
Meliah has given her mother a hand-made card, flowers and Valentine's hearts.
"I would give anything if I could be like Meliah and have the love she has in her heart," Mary said. "You see her, she smiles, she'll light up your day."