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Bulldogs storm back for rivalry win
Kaycee Creek shared a laugh with several of her Ceres High varsity softball teammates while standing in the pitcher's circle before the start of the fourth inning.

The host Bulldogs had just taken a 5-3 lead minutes earlier against crosstown rival Central Valley during the Valley Oak League showdown.

"That took a lot of pressure off my shoulders," said Creek, who was tagged for three runs in the top of the first inning. "I didn't have to worry about making mistakes. My team had my back. I'm proud of them."

The Bulldogs maintained their perfect record against the Hawks on Wednesday with an 8-6 victory. Second-place Ceres High (5-2) beat third-place Central Valley (3-4) for the fifth straight time.

"It feels good to keep that streak going," Creek said.

Kaycee allowed five hits and struck out nine over seven innings.

"Once she started hitting her spots, they had a hard time putting the bat on the ball," Bulldogs head coach Donnie Donaldson said.

The Hawks showed a lot of patience at the plate in collecting three hits and two walks on their way to building a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Jayme Sprague walked and scored on Alyssa Meshach's double to left-center field. Meshach came home when Vicky Ochoa doubled to right-center.

Alicia Yori's two-out, RBI single rolled just out of the reach of Ceres High second baseman Shea Farriester. Ochoa's run made it a 3-0 game.

"I was nervous," Kaycee said. "After the first inning, I buckled down and tried very hard. They're our rivals. You can't do bad."

A relaxed Creek retired the side in order in the second, third and fourth innings.

"I'm actually disappointed," Central Valley head coach Veronica Giddens said. "After the first inning, we started swinging at everything. We weren't selective. We were being overly aggressive and not disciplined."

The Hawks wasted a promising start.

"It felt good scoring first," Ochoa said. "I thought we were going to win. It would have been nice to beat them at their house. We'll step it up big next time."

Ceres High tallied five runs in the bottom of the third inning, one in the fourth and two in the fifth.

In the third inning, Hillary Haley collected an RBI single and scored a run. Farriester drove in a run with a bunt and scored once. Creek, Jode Johnson and Taiylor Sakurada each tallied a run. Erika Reyes (groundout) and Mika Johnson (sacrifice fly) both had an RBI.

Jode Johnson walked with one out in the fourth inning, collided with Central Valley's shortstop while stealing second and later scored on Creek's sharply-hit grounder, which was misplayed by Central Valley's third baseman.

Haley and Reyes both scored on wild pitches in the fifth inning.

Meshach's three-run double to the left-field fence in the top of the sixth inning cut the deficit to two and quieted Ceres High's dugout. Yori, Amanda Flemming and Sprague accounted for Central Valley's runs.

The Hawks brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh inning. Alexandra Serna hit a slow grounder to Creek, who fielded the ball and applied the tag for the final out. Jazmin Castillo was left stranded at first base.

"We hit the ball pretty good," Giddens said. "Our defense wasn't where it needed to be. We had a lot of errors."

The Hawks committed six errors, four more than the Bulldogs.

During its previous four losses to Ceres High, Central Valley struggled mightily on offense.

The Bulldogs outscored the Hawks 42-5 and won three times via the 10-run slaughter rule.

"We're getting a lot better," Giddens said.

Added Donaldson: "It's going to be a good rivalry. They have a lot of talent."