Ceres High School grad Callie Nunes played a key role while helping the Concordia University Irvine softball team climb from No. 11 to No. 7 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division-II poll on March 3.
“The main reason for our jump is we beat the 10th team in the nation,” she said. “We definitely worked hard for it.”
Nunes, a senior All-American pitcher, compiled a 1-0 record with 10 strikeouts and one save as the Eagles won two of three games against No. 10 Oklahoma Christian the previous weekend.
“It’s always fun competing,” she said. “I’m my own biggest critic. I can only go up from here.”
Nunes totaled 10 strikeouts as Concordia topped Oklahoma Christian 9-4 during Game 1 on Feb. 27.
She allowed one earned run and seven hits in six innings.
“I’m proud of myself for getting a gritty win against a team that is very good,” she said. “I didn’t have my A-game. I could feel my body wasn’t right. My timing was off. I had to make little adjustments throughout the game. My team had my back. They made some huge plays.”
Nunes set a program-record for career saves during Concordia’s 7-4 triumph over Oklahoma Christian in Game 2.
Nunes’ ninth save gave her sole possession of the top position.
She retired all three batters she faced via groundout.
“It’s truly an honor,” she said. “It’s hard to win and set records.”
Nunes has a perfect 3-0 record with a 1.00 ERA, 20 strikeouts, three walks and one save through the Eagles’ first five games of the 2021 season.
She’s allowed just two earned runs in 14 innings.
Nunes and Concordia had their 2020 campaign cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Eagles won 10 of 11 games at home on their way to compiling a 17-5 overall record.
“It’s really exciting to play again,” she said. “It’s starting to feel normal. We still have to wear masks.”
“It’s so nice to see people back in the stands,” Nunes added. “The one thing I missed the most was pitching and seeing my dad stand behind home plate.”
The Eagles will begin PacWest play this week.
Concordia’s modified conference schedule consists of 24 games.
“We’re playing two teams (Biola and Azusa Pacific) 12 times each,” Nunes said. “It’s much better than not having a season at all. We’re grateful.”
The Eagles will be vying for their straight PacWest title as well as a third appearance in the NCAA DII West Region playoffs after hosting the regional tournament in 2018 and 2019.
The 2021 season will run through April barring any COVID-19 related setbacks.
Nunes posted a 7-2 record with a 1.37 ERA and 76 strikeouts last spring.
She earned PacWest Pitcher of the Week honors three times.
A six-time All-American, Nunes entered her junior season ranked third in program history in career shutouts (22) and fourth in strikeouts (555).
Nunes helped lead Concordia to the Super Regional for the first time in program history, a 47-8 overall record and its second straight PacWest Conference title in 2019.
The Eagles claimed the West Regional championship and climbed to No. 1 in the NFCA West Regional rankings for the first time.
Concordia reeled off 18 straight wins heading into Super Regionals.
A finalist for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division-II National Player and Pitcher of the Year awards as a sophomore, Nunes was recognized by the Division-II Conference Commissioners Association, NFCA and PacWest Conference.
She was named the D2CCA West Region Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season. She earned first-team, all-region honors as well.
Nunes was selected to the NFCA First-Team All-Region Team for the second consecutive year.
She was also a repeat winner of the PacWest Conference Pitcher of the Year award.
Nunes tied for first in NCAA DII with 33 victories and was fourth in strikeouts (266) while posting a 1.34 ERA. She had four no-hitters.
Nunes was named to the 2020 Preseason All-PacWest Softball Team. Concordia was picked to finish first in 2020 PacWest Softball Preseason Poll by the conference’s head coaches.
Nunes played three seasons of varsity softball at Ceres High.
She helped propel the Bulldogs to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III crown in 2016, ending a 21-year drought between titles.
Nunes and third-seeded Ceres High compiled a 5-1 record in the playoffs.
She posted a 20-3 record with a 1.14 ERA, 239 strikeouts, two no-hitters and 10 shutouts on the year.
Nunes amassed a 20-3 record with a 0.52 ERA, 291 strikeouts, one no-hitter and 11 shutouts during her final season with the Bulldogs.
She ranked fourth in the state in strikeouts.
Ceres High qualified for the postseason for the sixth straight year and captured its fourth consecutive Western Athletic Conference championship.
Nunes won the WAC Pitcher of the Year award for the second time.
She was selected to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Medium Schools First Team.
Nunes had a career record of 51-13 with 686 strikeouts, four no-hitters and 26 shutouts.
“Pitching is always mentally and physically draining,” said Nunes, who stands just 5 feet 5 inches and weighs 117 pounds. “I have to put every ounce of energy I have into every pitch because I’m so small.”