Athlete Spotlight: Celeste Adriano’s last-game mindset is key in leading Lady Heralds
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
On a team that has shown plenty of offensive firepower over the course of its nonleague schedule, no one has had quite as hot a start as Celeste Adriano has for the Whittier Christian softball team.
In addition to her gaudy offensive numbers, the senior has shown plenty of flexibility in the field, playing just about every position in the field for the Lady Heralds this season.
“Even from the start, we’ve had that mentality that this is the last time we get a chance to start off strong,” Celeste said. “I think it’s made me push even more because this is my last chance and I want to make it the best.”
A transfer into the Whittier Christian program from Rosary last year, Celeste admitted it took a little bit of time to get acclimated with her new surroundings, but after a little time, the program feels like family to her now.
As a result of her hard work, dedication and belief in her teammates, she was chosen as one of the captains for this year’s team.
“She puts a lot of work in, she’s been a blessing for us since she came into the program,” said Dale Van Duyn, Whittier Christian head coach. “And she fit right in. She’s a leader without saying much and that’s what I like about her. She earned her role by what she does on and off the field. She’s doing what it takes to get to the next level.”
As a captain, she has led in every way possible, starting with her work on the field.
Through 12 nonleague games this season, the senior leads the team with a .611 batting average, six home runs and 22 runs batted in.
Those numbers have included a number of momentum-changing hits in key situations.
“I knew she could swing the stick, but sometimes they just really see the ball,” Van Duyn said. “It was about two months ago, she just walked up to the plate with a lot of confidence and that’s half the game right there. Now she looks at me and she has it in her eyes.”
In the team’s final nonleague game against Gahr last Thursday, Celeste’s two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning broke a 7-7 tie and proved to be the game-winner.
While Celeste says she didn’t change anything in regards to her approach at the plate, she believes that remaining calm while in the batter’s box has been a big help.
“I just feel calmer and I have a little more confidence than I did last year,” she said. “I’m just relaxed, calm and I hit.”
But while her offensive numbers stand out, what appeals most to her head coach is her flexibility and her willingness to provide whatever the team needs in the field.
Primarily playing left field, Celeste has played upwards of three positions in the same game, going two different infield spots to left field in one game and going from catcher to second base in the following game.
During travel ball season, Celeste’s primary position is catcher.
“I’ve played Celeste at every position this year, she’s a true utility player,” Van Duyn said. “I could plug her in to any position and she could get the job done. You can’t say that about most kids. She’s a good catcher and I wish I could plug her into the infield, but we needed an outfielder and she just smiled and said ‘OK, if that’s where you need me’.”
But Celeste’s mindset during her senior year has made the difference in her performance through nonleague play.
While Celeste spends the offseason playing plenty of travel ball and working on her craft, this high school season has had a higher priority.
Knowing it’s her final year to play high school softball, Celeste approaches every game as if it’s her last with her Whittier Christian teammates.
“I work hard on the field and this is my family,” she said. “I think every game is important and so I treat every game as if it’s my last. Yes, sometimes I say that I’ll always have another game, but this year I’m not thinking like that. We have to treat every game as if it’s a La Habra or a La Serna and we have to go in with a mentality that we’re going to win.”
However, Celeste’s softball career will not end after high school as the senior signed her letter of intent last November, to play at San Francisco State.
One of the big influences that helped in Celeste’s decision with San Francisco State was Gators’ head coach Christina Byrne.
“She’s sort of like [Coach] Dale, she’s like a friend,” Celeste said. “I know she’ll push me, but I know that I can talk to her too. I went to her camps and during travel ball, she was at all those camps as well. I also love the city, it’s right there, I think that was great for me.”
With the signing done, Celeste says a big weight has been lifted off her shoulders knowing that she already has a plan in place for college.
Now the senior can breathe easier, have more fun with her teammates and continue keeping that calm demeanor at the plate.
When it comes to role models, Celeste said that her parents are always pushing her to be better, but she also takes in little bits from all aspects of her life, including her friends and coaches.
“My parents are a huge part of that, with the way they push me,” she said. “There’s a lot of little role models that I have, including Coach Dale and my friends, they always play a part in my life. There’s not one particular person that I look up to completely, but there’s little things all around that I look up to.”
While in school, Celeste enjoys history and said that her teachers have made the biggest difference in piquing her interest in the subject. She also enjoys poetry and reading.
And while she says softball is her life, on the rare chance she’s not practicing or studying, Celeste enjoys hanging out with friends, eating or catching up on sleep.
But while she’s on the field she’s calm, collected and enjoying her senior season to the fullest with a small number of goals in mind for the remainder of her final high school season.
“Everything I have is for my team and I want CIF, that’s what I want,” Celeste said. “Maybe for me, I’d like to finish higher than second team [All-League], but other than that, everything else is for the team, I want a league championship, I want CIF and that’s pretty much it.”