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Cerrato on right path

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

She missed junior year following incident, but pitcher is now consistent force for Costa Mesa.

May 06, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer…)

Tamy Cerrato didn't grow up as a softball player.

When she started the sport her freshman year at Costa Mesa High, she said it was difficult.

"I didn't know anything about the sport," Cerrato said. "I was kind of lost. I grew up playing soccer and basketball, and this was totally different. It was out of my comfort zone."

She started playing at third base, one of several promising freshman for the Mustangs that freshman year of 2008. Now Cerrato and the other three varsity holdovers from that year – second baseman Sami Feinstein, shortstop Alex Krohnfeldt and outfielder Nikki Lether – are the senior leaders for the Mustangs.

Cerrato ended up picking up the sport just fine, which isn't surprising. The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week doesn't mind facing challenges in her life.

Another challenge this year has been Cerrato's transformation into Costa Mesa's top starting pitcher. And that has been made even more remarkable because of yet another challenge, this one in her personal life.

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She said last year near the start of the softball season she was physically assaulted at a park in Santa Ana.

"I was going to one of my aunt's houses," Cerrato said. "I don't really remember the park's name; it was just a stop. [The assault] was money-based. It wasn't sexual assault or anything like that."

Cerrato said to this day, she doesn't know who attacked her. But she had to go to court last spring to give testimony. Things piled up, and she didn't play softball her junior year.

"It was just kind of hard," Cerrato said. "I had to give up one, and obviously I'm not going to give up school. I had to go to court a lot, so I obviously couldn't say no to court either. I had to give up softball. It sucked, but I had to do it. I promised myself I would come back senior year and try to do my best. It was hard, but you've kind of gotta get back up."

The post player in basketball came into her senior softball year with just a bit of pitching experience. She dabbled in pitching at the end of her sophomore year and briefly took lessons, but she was clearly the Mustangs' No. 2 pitcher as the season began. Sophomore Nikki Delgado, now primarily the team's first baseman, handled most of the team's pitching duties early on while Cerrato was at first.

Cerrato said she loves pitching, but she didn't mind first base. However, Coach Nichole Maddox noticed something.

Cerrato is unflappable on the mound.

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