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Penna helping Sea Kings build program

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Sophomore first baseman has battled through scoliosis to become valuable contributor for CdM.

March 30, 2012|By Matt Szabo
(Kevin Chang | Daily…)

The learning curve for joining high school softball was not difficult for Amanda Penna, who had been playing the sport competitively since age 8.

But since that time, Penna also had been playing with a much different and more dangerous curve — the curvature of her spine.

Penna was diagnosed with scoliosis. The curve in the upper part of her spine kept getting worse and worse. So did her back pain.

By her eighth-grade year at Corona del Mar Intermediate, Penna said the scoliosis had gotten severe. Her spine curved 78 degrees, and it's painful just to write that. Think about how a right angle is 90 degrees, and Penna had to live everyday with a spine that was curved nearly as much.

"It was hard to sit down for a while," Penna said. "When I was about to go into surgery, I couldn't even move without taking a couple Advils a day. It was just that bad, where I would have to lay down."

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It was a lot to deal with for Penna, who was then just 13, but surgery was the only option. Penna had it in September, 2009. Due to the straightening of her spine, she immediately grew three inches from 5-foot-6 to 5-9. Since then, she has grown two more inches.

The pain is mostly gone for Penna, though she said she now has two rods and many screws in her spine. It is better than the alternative.

"If I didn't get the surgery, I'd probably be having a really hard time breathing," she said.

Penna has fully recovered. She's a sophomore first baseman at CdM, and she's off to a good start to the season.

Penna, who is batting .306 this year with 12 runs batted in, has helped Corona del Mar accomplish a lot already. Last week, the Sea Kings made the championship game of the La Quinta Aztec Challenge before falling to University, 10-1.

CdM is 7-6, and can add to the win total when they play a doubleheader at Estancia on Saturday. The Sea Kings have not even won more than seven games in an entire season since 2007.

Penna is a big part of the improvement. As the No. 3 hitter, she helps set the table for senior cleanup hitter Lindsey Susolik. Her height and length also help at first base, especially in softball, where there are so many bang-bang close calls at first.

"She's just a really good team player," CdM first-year coach Kiki Muñoz said. "She's consistent. She leads by example."

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