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Bulldog stars sign
Ceres High softball standout Ryan Norton and Bulldog baseball star Dustin Baisdon will be continuing their athletic careers at the next level.

Baisdon signed a national letter intent with Cal State Stanislaus on April 13.

Norton accepted a scholarship from Simpson University in November of 2010.

"Having a chance to do this means a lot to me," Ryan said. "I get my education paid for and to play a sport I love. It's a great opportunity."

Said Baisdon: "It's a dream come true. All of my hard work and dedication paid off."

Norton visited Simpson University, which is located in Redding, twice before committing.

The Red Hawks won two of four games at the NCCAA Softball World Series, placed first in the Cal-Pac standings (14-2) and posted a 35-19 overall record in 2010.

"I love the coach and team," said Norton, who will be vying for a starting position in the outfield. "They made me feel at home there. They're super friendly."

Norton also weighed offers from Humboldt State, Northwest Christian University, Willamette University, Biola University and Notre Dame de Namur.

Baisdon chose Cal State Stanislaus over Cal Poly, Santa Clara and Fresno Pacific.

"There were other schools but I felt Stanislaus was the best fit for me," Dustin said. "I have a good chance to step right in and play in the outfield or pitch."

Dustin signed with the Warriors in front of family and friends at Super Mom's Frozen Yogurt & More.

"I walked in and it was packed," Baisdon said. "Everyone was clapping. It was a real fun, exciting night."

Dustin and Ryan have both had productive four-year varsity careers with the Bulldogs.

Baisdon and Norton earned all-league honors their first three seasons, including first-team accolades twice.

Baisdon would have won the Valley Oak League Most Valuable Player award in 2010 if his team finished higher in the standings. Dustin posted a 7-3 record with a 2.65 ERA, four complete games, one save and 85 strikeouts while pitching for the fourth-place Bulldogs (10-6). He batted .352 (32-for-91) from the plate with one homer, two triples, five doubles, 14 RBIs and four stolen bases.

Norton batted .500 (30-for-60) with two triples, two doubles, 21 runs, nine RBIs, five stolen bases and a .508 on-base percentage her junior year.

Ryan and Dustin developed a passion for their respective sports while playing in the Ceres Youth Baseball & Softball leagues. They spent countless hours at George Costa Ball Park.

Dustin and Ryan both improved dramatically thanks in large part to their year-round dedication.

They've suited up for multiple travel teams.

"I've always loved softball the most," said Norton, who lettered in tennis three years and did one season of cheerleading at Ceres High. "It's been the most competitive. My dad (Gene) used to take me out when I was little and hit me five buckets of flyballs. He helped me get to the point I'm at right now."

Dustin has also had a great support system. Mike Baisdon and Ceres High coaches Bret Durossette and John Bussard, and Chicago White Sox scout Adam Virchis assisted in Dustin's development.

Baisdon played for Virchis when he traveled to Australia for the Goodwill Games during Christmas Break. The White Sox scout team compiled a 14-2 record. Dustin started in center field when he wasn't pitching.

"Growing up, all my weekends were spent playing baseball," Baisdon said. "My dad (Mike) taught me the game and coached most of my travel teams. I really enjoyed it."

Ryan and Dustin will graduate from Ceres High in June.

They're both looking forward to the future.

"It's been a goal of mine ever since I was a little kid," said Ryan, who will be immersed in her first season of collegiate softball a year from now.

Added Gene Norton: "She's really happy."

Baisdon will continue to live in Ceres. He'll make the short drive to Turlock for school, practice and home games.

"My family and friends can come watch me play," Dustin said.