Ceasar Becomes B-CU's Comeback Story
By KEN HORNACK
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Comeback is a term that, in softball, often pertains to overcoming something like a multi-run deficit.
Simone Ceasar’s comeback is on a totally different level from that.
After missing all of last season because she needed surgery for Crohn’s disease, the Bethune-Cookman leftfielder has returned to start in every game for a team that has secured the top seed in this week’s Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament. One of four seniors on the Wildcats, Ceasar is appreciative of the opportunity to be in uniform again.
“It’s a great feeling, knowing that I can take a year off and work as hard as I did and come back and play with these girls,” she said. “The group of girls that I’m going out with, I came in with. I’m lucky to be able to contribute the way I did.”
“It’s awesome,” B-CU coach Chris Cochran said. “It’s more just a testament to her and her will to be on the field. She’s come a long way.”
Although its exact cause is unknown, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory illness which usually occurs in people between the ages of 15 and 35. Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and New England Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light are among the more noteworthy people to have been diagnosed with it.
While she’ll never be mistaken for an NFL player, Ceasar displayed a similar resiliency and determination to get back to where she was prior to the surgery.
“Losing five pounds is a lot for someone like me,” she said. “I did lose a lot of weight, a lot of muscle mass. I’ve just been working hard in the weight room with my training coaches and out here, just slowly pacing myself and not really pushing the envelope too far – knowing when it’s time to peak and when it’s time to take a step back.”
“I had no doubt that she would come back,” Cochran said. “I knew that she wouldn’t be at full strength, certainly not right away. But she’s got a lot of that back.”
With a .285 average, Ceasar has improved from when she batted .272 in 59 starts as a junior. Although her offensive statistics might not be as attention-grabbing as those of teammate Michelle Banuelos-Smith, Cochran said the two of them have shown the same sort of leadership skills going back to when they were freshmen.
Ceasar has already earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and is working on her Master’s in Transformative Leadership.
“Every year, a younger group of girls come in,” she said. “And they’re so excited to be here. They’ve been excited since day one, and that’s always great.”
Freshman Sophia Ortega is one of the Wildcats’ top five hitters, and fellow newcomers Melissa Berouty and Wanda Darby have also made an impact. But if B-CU is to retain its title, it will be due in large part to a group of seniors who don’t take any opponent lightly.
“Like coach tells us, it’s harder to stay on top,” Ceasar said. “So we’ve got to work harder each time we come out here on the field. I like being an underdog. Who doesn’t? To be able to triumph and come back and win and take it all again just makes it that much sweeter.”