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Central Valley's softball program on the rise
Central Valley High School's varsity softball team continues to make history.

The Hawks tripled their win total from the previous two seasons with a 14-4, slaughter-rule victory over Sonora on Wednesday in Ceres.

"It's a really big win for us," Central Valley second baseman Alyssa Long said. "It boosts our confidence for further games. We're just going to get better."

The Hawks improved to 5-9 overall and 3-2 in the VOL. The Wildcats dropped to 6-7 on the year and 1-4 in conference play.

Central Valley finished 1-13 in league a season ago and 0-14 in 2007.

Asked if she was surprised by her team's turnaround, head coach Veronica Giddens said: "Not really. "We've been on the cusp. We had a lot of close games last year. They're more cohesive as a team this season. They're working harder at practice. They're doing well."

Just about every player on the Hawks' roster has contributed in 2009. Six of Central Valley's starters are sophomores, including Long, pitcher Vicky Ochoa, shortstop Alyssa Meshach, first baseman Jessica Berndt, catcher Kiana Lallana and outfielder Alicia Yori.

Ochoa allowed just three hits and batted 4-for-4 from the plate against Sonora.

Meshach collected two hits, stole four bases and scored four runs in five at-bats.

Long belted her third homer.

Berndt went 2-for-4.

The Hawks, who totaled a season-high 13 hits, tallied three runs in the first inning, two in the second, one in the third, seven in the fourth and one in the sixth. "It was definitely a team win," Long said.

Long attributed part of Central Valley's success to improved chemistry. She joked around with several of her teammates following the Hawks' six-inning, mercy-rule triumph over Sonora.

"We have a lot better connection," Long said. "We know each other so well. We hang out with each other on campus. We really enjoy being with each other."

It's apparent that Central Valley is a team on the rise.