Coincidental injuries, recovery help Coronado players bounce back

Coronado shortstop Paige Sinicki (12) heads for third base during a softball game against Basic at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) ‘s Kaila Angel (9) throws in from center field during a softball game against Basic at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) shortstop Paige Sinicki (12) jumps for a Basic line drive during their softball game at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) players, including outfielder Kaila Angel (9) and shortstop Paige Sinicki (12) get instruction from head coach Melissa Krueger during a softball game against Basic at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) shortstop Paige Sinicki (12) eyes a fly ball during a softball game against Basic at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) ‘s Kaila Angel (9) rounds second base after getting a hit off Basic in the third inning during their softball game at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) shortstop Paige Sinicki (12) gets ready to bat during a softball game against Basic at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) baserunner Paige Sinicki (12) reacts to her teammates after hitting a triple in the first inning of their softball game against Basic at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) baserunner Paige Sinicki (12) high-fives head coach Melissa Krueger after hitting a triple in the first inning of a softball game against Basic at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) shortstop Paige Sinicki (12) reacts after tagging out a Basic baserunner during their softball game at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) baserunner Paige Sinicki (12) gets a high five from coach Melissa Krueger on third base during a softball game against Basic at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) baserunner Paige Sinicki (12) slides safely into third base as Basic Madison Berg (16) fields the throw in the first inning of their softball game at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) shortstop Paige Sinicki (12) tags out Basic baserunner Mikayla Berg (15) during their softball game at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) shortstop Paige Sinicki (12) and Aleah Baldonado (4) celebrate after Sinicki tagged out Basic baserunner Mikayla Berg (15) during their softball game at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) ‘s Paige Sinicki (12) hits against Basic in the first inning of their softball game at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) ‘s Paige Sinicki (12), standing on chair, cheers with her teammates in the first inning of their softball game against Basic at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) ‘s Kaila Angel (9) hits against Basic in the third inning during their softball game at Coronado High School in Henderson Friday, April 12, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Torn knee ligaments aren’t a rarity among athletes.

But to have two teammates in the same grade, batting 1-2 in their lineup, both recovering from nearly the same injury to the same knee, suffered slightly more than a month apart while playing the same secondary sport?

Such was the fate of Coronado sophomores Paige Sinicki and Kaila Angel.

The first two hitters in the Cougars’ lineup have worked their way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in their right knee. Both suffered the injury playing flag football as freshmen.

“Oh my gosh,” said Sinicki. “It was frustrating because I know how much we both love the sport.”

Coronado coach Missy Krueger already had penciled the two into her lineup months before last season started. Two freshmen, ready to help an already talented team.

“That was the plan from fall intramurals,” Krueger said. “I was upset for both of them because they’re such athletes.”

Sinicki, who has committed to play college softball at Oregon, went down in the first quarter of her first flag football game after scoring a touchdown.

Torn ACL and a tear in the meniscus.

“It was very hard,” Sinicki said. “I’ve been waiting to play a high school season since I was little because I’ve always played up. I was really upset, but my teammates were there for me. It made me a stronger player and person.”

A month later, Angel was chasing the quarterback when her right leg didn’t turn with the rest of her body. Torn ACL.

I was just doing another sport for fun, and it was a bad idea in the end,” Angel said with a laugh. “I was really mad that I let myself get injured in a sport I wasn’t supposed to be playing, but after a while I accepted it and just started working my way back.”

The injuries cost Sinicki a portion of her club season last year and forced Angel out until November, but it brought the teammates closer together.

“I just wanted to be there and help her and give her some tips because I had my surgery before hers,” Sinicki said. “I was giving her tips on what she would experience, and we push each other every day.”

Both still think about the injury at times, but haven’t let it hinder their play.

“Sometimes I guard against it, but other times I think that I have a new knee and it’s stronger than my other leg,” Angel said. “I might as well just go out with a bang. I can’t bend it like I used to, so I can’t slide on my knee.”

Sinicki, the team’s shortstop, is hitting .519 with 44 runs, five home runs and 27 RBIs. Angel, who bats second and plays center field, is hitting .412 with 21 runs and 20 RBIs for the Cougars, who are 9-0 in the Desert League.

“I’m not surprised because I know we both worked really hard,” Sinicki said. “We had a little rough patch in the beginning, but we both worked so hard, and it has paid off.”

Along with senior pitcher Ashley Ward (.590, 29 RBIs) and contributions up and down the lineup, Sinicki and Angel have the Cougars bidding for a state tournament berth.

“They both play hard,” Krueger said. “You couldn’t tell except that both slide head-first now. I think this is the tip of the iceberg for the two of them. “

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reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis