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Corsaut honors ladies at CHS banquet
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Ceres High School has one of the most successful softball programs in the Central Valley. Prior to the start of the 2004 season, the Bulldogs made the playoffs 15 years in a row, won or shared the Central California Conference for the last seven years and compiled a winning record 18 years in a row.

This year's team advanced to the playoffs for the 16th consecutive year but failed to win the CCC title for the first time in school history.

Ceres finished a game behind Golden Valley in the league standings.

"We played with the girls that were healthy and they did a great job," said Ceres coach Mike Corsaut, whose team went 14-4 in the CCC, 20-8 overall. "I'm very proud of them. I have no complaints.

"Coming in second is going to make them hungrier for next year."

Corsaut congratulated his team at an awards banquet in the Ceres High cafeteria on Tuesday, May 25. He also recapped the season and recognized a handful of players, including Heidi Eisenbeis, Heather Russell and Amanda Gravitt.

"Those three were very deserving of the awards that they got," Corsaut said.

Eisenbeis won the Most Valuable Player Award.

The junior second baseman hit .456 (36-for-79) with two homers, one triple, five doubles, 20 runs and 17 RBIs. She made just four errors en route to compiling a .946 fielding percentage.

"She was one of our top-two hitters," Corsaut said. "She led the team in home runs and RBIs. She was second in (batting average)."

Eisenbeis led by example. She took extra batting practice at lunch and also worked on her defense on her own time.

"She was our quiet leader," Corsaut said. "She didn't miss practice and always wanted to do the extra things to get better."

Russell won the Most Improved Player Award.

The junior played third base, a position she never played before, for seven games when Gravitt filled in at shortstop for Meghan Franksen, who was relegated to the bench with a hamstring injury. She hit .333 (18-for-54) with two doubles, six runs and nine RBIs.

"She just got better and better as the season wore on," Corsaut said. "She'll be the leading candidate next year to play third base for us."

Gravitt won the Coach's Award.

The senior utility infielder hit .298 (23-for-77) with four doubles, 10 runs and 12 RBIs.

"She did some great things for us," Corsaut said. "She came up with some big hits and big defensive plays."

The Bulldogs will compete in a new league next year.

Ceres and the five Modesto high schools are leaving the CCC and forming the Modesto Metro Conference. The top two teams go to playoffs.

"We'll be battling Davis probably for a championship," Corsaut said. "That's what I'm predicting. Johansen will be good too. They will have a lot of seniors."

Ceres lost five players to graduation: Gravitt, Andrea Mathis, Monique Castro, Michelle Gonzales and Shelby Olivan.

"Ceres has always had the reputation of putting the best product on the field," Corsaut said. "That's going to continue."