Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Celia Padilla-Hicks started playing volleyball and softball at age 9. Now, nine years later, she will be part of the graduating class of 2014 of Saint Mary’s High School in Phoenix.
Throughout her years of playing, Padilla-Hicks has improved her skill in softball, which is a game she loves.
“I love pitching. I love the excitement and feel like I am the main thing in the game. It’s me and the catcher doing the work, and you have your entire defense behind you,” she said. “I just love the game because it makes me feel like the leader.”
From sixth through 10th grade, Padilla-Hicks pitched for Salt River High School.
In her junior year she transferred to Saint Mary’s and joined the Lady Knights varsity softball team, where she would finish out her senior year.
She pitched her last game on April 27, an away game against Maryvale High School in Phoenix. St. Mary’s won 7-2. “I pitched my last game, and it was sort of emotional for me being that it was my last game for high school,” said Padilla-Hicks.
She has pitched against some of the best teams in the Valley, such as Corona Del Sol, Xavier and Westview high schools.
“I was very proud of my team. Even though most of the girls were very young, they were all very talented,” said Padilla-Hicks.
She said her senior year went by in a flash, with a busy school schedule, playing on the softball team and also playing on the volleyball team. “We were a decent team for volleyball, and my softball season was also really great, even though we didn’t make it to playoffs this year. If we had won three more of our games, we would have made it,” said Padilla-Hicks as she looked back.
“I have been told my hitting is very strong, and I have hit the ball to the fence and over it several times during games,” she said.
During her high school games, college scouts were watching Padilla-Hicks. They recently asked her to join their schools. “Glendale Community College offered me a scholarship to come play with them, as well as South Mountain [Community College],” said Padilla-Hicks.
“I am really thankful. I never gave up on playing and practiced a lot, and hopefully [I will] make it to a university,” she said.
In addition to her school team, Padilla-Hicks also played with her father, Harold “Big Boi” Hicks, in softball and baseball tournaments and leagues throughout the Valley.
“We are very proud of her. I would like to thank Sonny Perkins for starting her out in pitching,” said her proud mother, Ramona Hicks.
“When I decide which college to pick, I am going to attend it for two years to work on the basic classes. Then I plan to enroll into a university and major in business,” said Padilla-Hicks.
As far as inspiring other girls to join softball, Padilla-Hicks recommends trying it out. “I wasn’t the very best [in the beginning]. I remember I cried my first time [I played], but with lots of practice I was able to get better. Just continue to play, and if you like it, never give up.”