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CHS graduates help Pirates
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The stands at the Ceres High varsity softball field are empty. Coach Mike Corsaut greets former players Omaira Estremera and Michelle Jara with hugs and wishes them well. The 2003 Ceres High graduates just finished watching their alma mater beat Modesto Metro Conference rival Beyer.

Estremera and Jara guided the Modesto Junior College softball team to its first league championship the day before on April 21. They also helped the Pirates clinch a berth in the postseason for the second year in a row.

"It's a big accomplishment," Jara said. "Our coaches are proud as heck."

"Added Estremera: "We didn't even think we were going to make the playoffs, much less place first in league."

The Pirates entered the season with high expectations. But a sluggish start crushed their confidence.

They remained focused and ascended to the top of the Central Valley Conference standings by winning 14 of their final 15 games. The turning point came during the final week of the first half of the season. Modesto swept Merced College to improve to 6-3 in conference play.

The Pirates concluded the regular season with a 14-0 win over the Blue Devils on April 26.

League awards were distributed on Friday.

Estremera was named Pitcher of the Year. The sophomore southpaw compiled a 16-3 record with 119 strikeouts and a 1.34 ERA. Estremera also helped her own cause. She batted .381 (16-for-42) from the plate with three doubles, five sacrifices, six runs and six RBI.

Jara earned first-team, all-CVC honors. The sophomore second baseman hit .351 (20-for-51) with four homers, four doubles, four sacrifices, 17 runs and nine RBI.

Estremera and Jara are weighing scholarship offers from four-year colleges. Estremera will be going to Cal State Stanislaus or Western New Mexico University. Jara visited Dickinson State University in North Dakota last week. Last month, she talked with coaches from the Chaminade University of Honolulu softball team while playing in the Easton Tournament of Champions at Rainbow Fields.

"We're fortunate to be able to go on and play," Jara said.

Estremera and Jara led Modesto to a second-place finish in the CVC at 16-5 and into the playoffs for the first time in six years last season. Estremera was a first-team, all-league selection.

On Saturday, Estremera, Jara and the eighth-seeded Pirates will face ninth-seeded Sierra in the first round of the 2005 California Community College Playoffs at San-Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. The game starts at 2 p.m. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier