Nicole Bates, Mahlena O’Neal, Rayohna Sagapolu and Callie Nunes helped lead Ceres High’s varsity softball program to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III championship in 2016.
This past spring, Bates (Washington), O’Neal (Georgia), Sagapolu (San Jose State) and Nunes (Concordia University) experienced success with their respective college teams.
The Huskies, Bulldogs, Spartans and Eagles had a combined record of 178-54.
“I’m definitely not surprised they’re doing great,” said Sagapolu, who was quick to praise her former teammates. “Even in high school, you could see they stood out. We all have a drive and love for the game. It pushed us to be successful.”
A sophomore shortstop with NCAA Division-I Women’s College World Series (WCWS) runner-up Washington, Bates batted .389 from the plate with five homers, three triples, 16 doubles, 37 RBIs, 53 runs, 25 walks and nine stolen bases.
She committed just four errors and turned 12 double plays for the Huskies, who amassed a 52-10 overall record, finished fourth in the Pac-12 Conference (15-8) and claimed Super Regional and Regional titles.
Nicole posted the highest single-season fielding percentage (.985) for a shortstop in the 26-year history of Washington’s softball program.
“My individual success wouldn’t have come without the team success,” she said.
Bates was a finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award.
She was selected to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division All-American and All-Region first teams.
Bates was voted Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
She was selected to the conference’s All-Defensive and First teams.
She also earned Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention recognition.
“It’s easy to play selflessly when you love each and everyone one of your teammates."Nicole Bates
“It’s easy to play selflessly when you love each and everyone one of your teammates,” Nicole said.
A sophomore catcher with 2018 WCWS participant Georgia, O’Neal totaled eight homers, five doubles, 34 RBIs and 11 runs.
She had a 1.000 fielding percentage and threw out 10 would-be base stealers for the Bulldogs, who went 48-13, placed second in the Southeastern Conference (16-8) and captured Super Regional and Regional crowns.
O’Neal was named to the Spring SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Mahlena missed parts of her freshman year with a broken finger and knee injury.
“Defense is my favorite part of the game,” she said.
“I just wanted to do my job—control the pitchers,” O’Neal added.
Sagapolu collected three doubles, 12 singles, five RBIs, eight runs and 14 walks during her freshman year with the Spartans.
Rayohna played in 38 games for San Jose State, which amassed a 32-17 overall record and placed second in the Mountain West Conference standings (16-8).
All but two of her 34 starts were at third base.
Sagapolu had a season-best seven-game hitting streak from March 29 to April 14.
Defensively, Rayohna had 52 putouts, 77 assists and eight errors.
She also made the academic honor roll.
“It (college softball) is a lot different from high school,” Sagapolu said. “It’s more fast-paced. Hitting-wise, you need to prepare better. I had to work hard to be one of the better players.”
Nunes won the 2018 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division-II National Freshman of the Year award for her dominance at pitcher.
She was selected to the NFCA Division-II All-America First Team.
Callie was named a First-Team, All-American by the Division-II Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA). The CCA also voted Nunes its West Region Pitcher of the Year.
She garnered D2CCA and NFCA All-West Region First-Team honors.
Nunes was voted PacWest Conference Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
She received first-team, all-league recognition.
“This is the most fun I’ve had playing softball,” Callie said.
Nunes posted a 25-4 record with a 0.74 ERA, 291 strikeouts, 18 complete games, two no-hitters and a school-record eight saves.
She filled a major role as the Eagles went 46-14 on the year, claimed the PacWest Conference title outright with a 26-6 mark and secured a berth to the NCAA West Regionals.
Callie allowed just 20 earned runs in 1901/3 innings and limited opponents to a .129 batting average.
She finished first in the country in ERA and strikeouts during the regular season.
“I thought I was going to have a good year,” said Nunes, who’s also in the running for NFCA D-II National Player of the Year. “But I did not see this coming. It’s kind of shocking.”