By Brenda De La Cruz
Softball starting pitcher Amaya Zaldivar shined as she completed a perfect five-inning game against Compton College on March 8. The final score was 10-0.
The 19-year-old freshman has been playing softball since the age of 11-and-a-half. She credits both her parents for providing her with the chance to play.
Her mother was her coach and the one to sign her up for softball. Her father financed her softball travels and coaching for pitching. She said he told her, “Wherever you want to go, I’ll provide it for you.”
Shortly before the fall season began, Zaldivar’s father passed away. At first, had doubts in herself and did not know if she could go on playing.
She contemplated taking the year off, but her mom pushed her. Zaldivar knew her father would be proud of her for continuing to play while also continuing her classes. She decided she wanted to keep playing for him.
Zaldivar said she felt more nervous than usual before the game against Compton, despite having previously going up against number one teams. She thanks her teammates for helping her get through the nerves.
She was so focused on each of her next pitches during the game. She didn’t even notice she was pitching a perfect game. Her friend was the one who helped her realize how well she did.
Her favorite pitch is the change-up since she can throw it at any time and throw off hitters with the mix of speed she uses.
Despite this, she didn’t throw a single change-up during the Compton game.
One of her favorite pitchers is former Dodger pitcher Trevor Bauer. She admires the pitcher’s work ethic and everything he does for baseball.
As for softball pitchers, her favorites include University of Alabama’s Montana Fouts, UCLA’s Rachel Garcia, former University of Michigan pitcher Megan Betsa, and former Cerritos pitching coach Ashley Belmontes.
Belmontes is currently Zaldivar’s pitching coach.
Zaldivar used to play as an outfielder, but found it boring with no action. She also played at third base but felt she wasn’t very good then, compared to now. She instead prefers and gravitates toward pitching.
When she shared her interest in pitching with her parents, Zaldivar thought it was too late, but her dad said, “She wants to do pitching, I’ll get her lessons,” and took her to her first lessons.
She said she had a rough start at the beginning of the season, but her teammates always saw how hard she worked outside of practice.
They told her to not get in her own head, and reminded her that she knew what she was capable of.
“It’s great to have that support in people that believe in you and know how much work and time you put into your craft,” Zaldivar said.
She said the team’s chemistry is great and the team feels like a family.
When she first decided which school to attend, she was undecided between Cerritos College and ELAC, but something told her ELAC was where she needed to be.
She is currently studying to be a firefighter as a fire tech major, and plans to play for an additional two years after ELAC. Her dream is to work on wildland firefighting.