PHOENIX, Ore. – Behind every star softball player is a strong team. Meranda Zanni moved to Phoenix from Douglas County last year and her teammates quickly became her family.
“Everyone’s a lot more welcoming,” said Zanni. “Everyone gets along really well. It’s just like having a sister, nine of them.”
In going along with the whole family them, Meranda and her Pirate sisters need a parental figure. That happens to come in the form of Meranda’s father, Jason Zanni. Jason actually moved down first and took over as the Phoenix coach and Meranda followed soon after.
“I think it was just a matter of, I have a really good, strong relationship with my daughter, and it was just one of those things that made it easy for her to come down and live with Dad,” said Jason.
“Once I got down here, we started getting really close, especially since I wasn’t very social,” said Meranda. “Outside of school, it was just me and him.”
So Meranda now has the same coach she’s had since she was little, and she’s come a long way since her early tee-ball days.
“My mom was mad at me because I was at second base playing in the dirt drawing, and she was like, ‘Why are we even playing if you’re not even paying attention,” said Meranda. “The ball went underneath your legs and you didn’t even notice.’ I was like, ‘Sorry.’”
When dad took over and things started to change.
“It didn’t really start kicking in until I was about eight or nine when we really started doing softball,” said Meranda. “We’d be in the backyard. He’d set up a little mound in the backyard. I remember it was all bumpy and hard to pitch on, but I was learning.”
That process led Meranda to first team all-league last year, her first with the Pirates. Her father has been there, from tee ball to her senior year, sometimes as a parent, but on the field, he’s coach.
“I can read his facial expressions better than anybody,” said Meranda. “I’m like, ‘Oh, he didn’t like that.’ Then I see him as Dad, but when it gets down to it, he’s more of the coach.”
“Dad’s not here during game times,” said Jason. “She’s treated like any of the rest of the girls. In that case, I guess Dad’s kind of here, but the reality is I’ve got twelve young ladies that are my daughters at one time.”