By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Dawgs clinch 3rd playoff berth
Placeholder Image
The Ceres High varsity softball team's 13-1 win over intra-city rival Central Valley on Thursday, coupled with Sonora's 4-1 loss to Oakdale gave the Bulldogs the Valley Oak League's third and final playoff berth.

“We pulled it off,” Bulldogs coach Donnie Donaldson said. “It's a good feeling. It's a big relief. It's a great reward for the seniors.”

Added Ceres High senior pitcher Kristen Ghimenti: “This was a must-win game. The girls knew that. And on top of that, it's a hometown rivalry. It's good to know the hard work paid off and the legacy is still alive.”

Ceres (14-9-2, 8-6 VOL) will make its 21st consecutive postseason appearance by facing CVC champion Foothill in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs on May 15 in Stockton.

“The streak continues,” Donaldson said. “It can't get anymore stressful.”

Ghimenti allowed just two hits and struck out 12 batters during the VOL finale. She notched her 200th strikeout of the year in the bottom of the second inning.

“I'm happy for her,” Donaldson said. “She had fun today.”

Added Ghimenti: “It's definitely an accomplishment. Not too many kids can say that. I give my catcher (sophomore Amanda Lampley) a lot of credit. She does an excellent job back there framing my pitches and catching my rise ball. It just amazes me sometimes.”

Ghimenti has experienced a whirlwind of emotions this season thanks to four one-run and two two-run losses in conference play.

Kristen's face lit up when she heard the news from her teammates and coaches that Oakdale had beaten Sonora.

Two days earlier, she fought back tears while sitting alone in the dugout following Ceres' 2-0 home loss to Oakdale.

“She was frustrated. But she never got on the team,” Donaldson said.

Added Ghimenti: “We played hard every game.”

Ceres feasted on Central Valley's pitching.

The Bulldogs tallied three runs in the top of the first inning. Kristina Beltran knocked in Ghimenti and Vaneza Hoover with a double to right field. She later scored when Samantha Romero reached first base on a fielding error in left field.

Ceres increased its lead to 4-1 in the third inning. Marinna Aguilar singled to left field, moved to second on a Romero walk and scored on Chelsea Lomeli's hit to right field.

The Bulldogs put the game out of reach by scoring nine runs with two out in the fourth inning. Ceres capitalized on four errors, two wild pitches and a pair of bases-loaded walks.

“I had some worries about this game because of how we've been hitting,” Donaldson said.

The heavily-favored Bulldogs took care of business against the Hawks. And Oakdale didn't disappoint.

“We were double-blessed,” Donaldson said. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier