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Sports Person of the Week
Peno Becoming a Cornerstone for the Warriors
Junior Cede Peno is primed for a nice year as a corner infielder for the Valley Regional softball team this spring. (Photo courtesy of Cede Peno)
Cede Peno returned to the diamond with great determination for the Valley Regional softball team this spring. Cede, a junior who plays first base and third base, has spent hours honing her skills at the plate and in the field, and she’s hoping to help the Warriors develop into a Shoreline Conference powerhouse during the next two seasons.
Cede believes that her versatility is the biggest asset that she brings to the Warriors. In addition to playing both corner infield positions, Cede also has the ability to adjust her approach at the plate in order to be a more effective hitter.
“I’m probably most proud of my ability to adapt. My biggest strength is probably my hitting, but I’ve been having to adapt to different pitches,” says Cede. “I’ve been learning different strategies for how to attack the balls that come in.”
Cede typically bats fifth in Valley’s lineup and works hard to turn baserunners into runs for the Warriors. Cede even works with her own hitting coach to hone her skills.
“I have a batting coach that I go to, and he considers me a power hitter. I work on building that power, but when I’m at bat, I am mostly aiming for the gaps,” Cede says. “I try to use my power to help people get around the bases. This year, we’ve been moved around, but I hit fifth in the lineup now.”
When it comes to playing the field, Cede’s natural position is first base. Cede prides herself on having great range at a position where she’s involved in a ton of plays.
“At first base, I have pretty good range, and I can stretch pretty far off the bag. I’m a righty playing first base, and I know a lot of people say lefties are the best first basemen, but I’m trying to prove them wrong,” Cede says. “I like playing first a lot, because I know that I’m capable of making the play when it comes to me. I’m helping the team get outs. I’m working a lot on picks. I have players throwing to me at practice, so I can make the most of it while I’m there.”
Cede also plays a solid third base whenever Valley needs her to slide over to the other side of the diamond. While both positions are corner infield spots, they are vastly different positions to play.
“Going from first to third is different. It’s a totally different angle on the field. At third, I have to be on my toes to look for the bunt or a ball coming at me. It’s called the hot corner for a reason,” says Cede, who lives in Deep River. “When I was moved there, I made sure that I didn’t get down that I wasn’t at my position. I considered that my coach thought I could field the ball effectively at that position. It was a compliment. I also asked my teammates who have played that position before for some advice.”
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the Warriors’ season. Cede was crestfallen when she learned that her softball season was canceled, but she tried to stay positive throughout the year.
“It was horrible that we didn’t have the season. I was upset we didn’t get to have that final year with those seniors,” Cede says. “I tried to stay as positive as I could. The pandemic made it hard to keep a positive mentality, but I knew I just had to take advantage and stay positive.”
Cede tried to use all the newfound time on her hands to build her skills as a player. She also spent plenty of time working on her conditioning.
“I took advantage of all the time I had. I was working out all the time. I would go on runs up at Valley when I could. I also worked with my batting coach,” says Cede. “My dad and my stepfather built a batting cage in my yard. I practiced that a few days a week, and I worked on fielding on days that I didn’t do batting. I don’t do travel ball in the summer, so I had to work on my own to improve my skills the best way that I could.”
The Warriors were primed for a big year in 2020, but Cede is trying to stay positive about their prospects for 2021. Even though Valley graduated a lot of key players during the two-year layoff, Cede prefers to look on the bright side.
“I knew that this year, I had to have the right mentality and just be there for the other players to come and ask questions or get help,” Cede says. “I see a lot of potential within us. We lost two years’ worth of players, but we got two years of players coming in this year. Through the past few weeks, we’ve gotten to know each other really well. We’re working as a team and learning our strengths and weaknesses. Through the practices last week, you can see how everyone is improving so much.”
Cede is excited to be back on the field with her teammates this year and, while she wants to help the team be successful, she’s just happy to be able to play the sport she loves once again. The Warriors will get better with every game they play together, and Cede is ready to see that journey through right to the final out of the season.
“We just have to keep fighting. We’re strong and dedicated to the sport that we are playing,” says Cede. “It’s important for the team to have this time together right now. It’s the best team I could ask to be on, honestly.”