One thing about Edison High junior softball player Jenna Bloom is that she enjoys challenges.
Pitching in the Sunset League certainly qualifies.
Bloom, a three-year varsity player committed to the University of Arkansas, holds her own. She said she has five pitches in her repertoire: a rise ball, screwball, drop curve, changeup and knuckleball.
She's been crafting her trade for years, first with the South Huntington Beach program located in the park across the street from Edison, at the Edison Recreation Center. Later, Bloom would try travel ball, where she now plays for Tustin-based Explosion Softball.
"I was always a little bit taller than the other kids," she said. "I decided that I wanted to do something where I was always active, and softball sounded like a great choice."
Each year at Edison, Bloom has split time in the circle. As a freshman, she had then-senior Kiana Pancino as the team's other pitcher. Last year, Bloom stepped up after then-senior Danielle Votendahl, the team's other primary pitcher, broke the index finger on her right (pitching) hand. Votendahl was cleated in a league game against Los Alamitos.
Injuries happen. That's where the challenge came this year for Bloom, who was splitting time with sophomore Talia Hannappel. This time, she was the one with the injured right index finger.
"I was experiencing a lot of stiffness in my joints, so I went to the doctor and he said I should take a few weeks off," Bloom said. "They said it was just going to be something I'd have to play through, but after taking my three weeks off, I do feel a lot better."
The three weeks off constituted the majority of the Sunset League campaign. Hannappel stepped up, and Edison (15-11) still managed to tie for third place, beating Marina in a tiebreaker game to earn automatic entry into the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
The Chargers turned to Bloom in the first round at Cerritos. The Daily Pilot High School Female Athlete of the Week delivered on May 17, striking out 14 and allowing just two hits as Edison rallied for a 2-1 victory. It was the Chargers' first playoff win in coach Melissa Roth's two years in charge.
"She's [Bloom] done a great job for us," said Roth, a former softball All-American at the University of Louisville. "When she does her job in the circle, it takes care of everybody else. Everybody kind of relaxes around her, and that's a huge deal. I think she has high expectations of those around her, and I think it makes everybody better for it."
Tuesday's second-round home loss to Aliso Niguel by the same 2-1 score ended the Chargers' season. Bloom again pitched well, allowing one earned run and striking out 10 in 5 1/3 innings. She finished the season 6-4.
Bloom proved this might be a good year for her in the season opener, at home against Mission Viejo on March 1. That was when she struck out 15 Diablos in the Chargers' 10-0 five-inning win. Every out came via the strikeout.
"I wasn't expecting the game to go that well for our team," Bloom said. "We really produced with our bats, which helped me continue going. It provided a lot of confidence with us in the field. I was really surprised with how it started off. Continuing to play like that is our goal every time we have a game."
It was the team camaraderie shown in the playoff win at Cerritos that made it one of Bloom's favorite moments. Again, it was a challenge going on the road to open the postseason, but the Chargers responded. Gio Liggett's single scored Katie Volk to tie the score in the sixth inning, and Grace Caswell scored on Nancy Clyne's two-out single in the seventh for the go-ahead run.
"We all came together as a team, and competed as one," Bloom said. "That was pretty awesome. The energy in the dugout was crazy too. I haven't ever seen our team have that much energy. It was really an exciting environment for us to be in."
The Chargers are anticipating continued success next season, and expect Bloom to be in the forefront again along with players like junior outfielder/shortstop Serena Starks, freshman designated player Bella Martinez and sophomore first baseman Hailie Benko. Starks, the team's leadoff hitter, was a combined six for seven in the team's two playoff games. She was also appreciative of Bloom's contribution to the team.
"I think she did a phenomenal job," Starks said. "Coming back from not throwing the whole Sunset League, coming back and pitching our two CIF games, I think she did a good job. I'm proud of her."
Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach are coming into the Sunset League next season, and the league will be split into two four-team divisions. Roth said that Edison will be in the top division, the Surf Division, along with co-league champions Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach, as well as Marina.
"We have a lot of young talent on the team," Bloom said. "Next year we're going to produce very good games, very good defense and very good offense. We have a lot to prove to the Sunset League. Next year is going to be our year.
"There are a lot of good hitters in the Sunset League, but like I said, I really enjoy challenges."
Born: July 2, 2001
Hometown: Huntington Beach
Height: 5 feet 10
Coach: Melissa Roth
Favorite food: Mediterranean food
Favorite movie: "The Breakfast Club"
Favorite athletic moment: Helping the Chargers beat Cerritos in the first round of CIF this year.
Week in review: Bloom had 14 strikeouts, earning the win as the Edison High softball team beat Cerritos 2-1 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs on May 17.