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CHS edges out Central Catholic, wins its first league title since 2005-06
The members of Ceres High School's varsity softball program flashed smiles while posing for a group picture following their 4-2 Western Athletic Conference title clinching win in extra innings at Central Catholic on Tuesday, May 8.

"It feels good to be in first," Ceres High senior pitcher Kaycee Creek said. "We deserve it. We worked hard."

The Bulldogs erased a 2-0 deficit and defeated the Raiders.

The win, coupled with Los Banos' 4-0 loss to Livingston, gave Ceres High the WAC title outright.

Ceres High, Central Catholic and Los Banos entered the final day of the regular season with identical 9-2 records.

The Bulldogs improved to 16-7 overall, earned the league's No. 1 playoff seed and secured their first conference title since the 2005-06 school year.

Central Catholic stunned Ceres High earlier this year when it rallied for a 7-2 victory in the final inning. "This is unbelievable," Bulldogs head coach Donnie Donaldson said. "We've put together such a great team."

Added Creek: "We never gave up."

Creek, Ceres High's ace pitcher, allowed six hits, struck out six and walked three.

Kaycee's back tightened in the top of the fourth inning. She missed several games last year with a similar injury.

"It was hurting but I tried not to think about it," she said. "I tried to stay strong for my team."

"Kaycee pitched phenomenal," Donaldson said. "That's her best game in her four-year career."

Central Catholic freshman Gia Rodoni had seven strikeouts and one walk. She scattered eight hits.

"The worst thing for Ceres High is we have to face her (Rodoni) another three years," Donaldson said. "She's a great pitcher."

Added Creek: "Hats off to Gia. She pitched an amazing game."

Down 2-0, Ceres High rallied in the top of the sixth inning.

Ali Lowman singled with two down, stole second and scored on Jessica Ellsworth's double down the third baseline. Camrynn Broumas knocked in Jessica with a single to right field.

"They stayed in the right frame of mind the whole game even after the errors," Donaldson said. "That was important."

The game was decided in the 10th by the international tiebreaker. Each team started the inning with a runner on second base.

The Bulldogs tallied two runs.

Kassandra Carrillo advanced to third on Laura Story's groundout.

Courtesy runner Mikayla Whatley sprinted home when Dia Borden singled to center.

Borden moved to second on Lowman's groundout and scored on Ellsworth's hard grounder. The ball zipped past Central Catholic third baseman Gabby Dias.

Mikayla, Ceres High's leftfielder in the final inning, made the play of the game on defense. With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Central Catholic's Josie Flores hit a fly ball to Whatley. Mikayla made the catch and threw to third for the double play. Ariana Moreno, who tried to advance from second, was tagged out by Ellsworth.

Whatley was promoted from JV earlier in the week.

"She didn't even play outfield yesterday," Donaldson said. "She took grounders at practice. She's definitely going to help us out in the future."

Creek and her Bulldog teammates felt pressure until registering the final out.

"It was still stressful because they're good hitters too," Kaycee said. "I just pitched my heart out and hoped for the best."

Ceres High won its first league title under Donnie's guidance.

Donaldson was promoted to head coach in 2007. He's led the Bulldogs to 98 victories and four playoff appearances.

"We did it for him," Creek said. "He really wanted it."

Ceres High will face Sierra Valley Conference runner-up Cosumnes Oaks (18-6-1, 9-2) in the first round of the playoffs on Thursday at Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton. The game will begin at 5 p.m.