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Dawgs prove doubters wrong
Ceres High's varsity softball program had all the pieces in place to make a serious run at the Sac-Joaquin Section DIV title.

The Bulldogs suffered a major blow when standout pitcher/slugger Vaneza Hoover got dismissed from the team for undisclosed disciplinary reasons three games into the Valley Oak League season.

Ceres High still managed to claim its 24th straight playoff berth despite the setback.

"Everybody wrote us off after losing Vaneza," junior shortstop Jode Johnson said. "She did do a lot for us but we had to overcome that."

"They accomplished something nobody thought was possible," head coach Donnie Donaldson said. "It was a struggle just to get into the playoffs."

The Bulldogs compiled a 20-8 overall record and finished in a tie for second place in the Valley Oak League standings this season thanks to the play of all of its members.

"It was different this year," Donaldson said. "Everybody had to step up and do their job."

Freshman Kaycee Creek filled in admirably at pitcher. The VOL first-team honoree posted a 12-5 record with a 1.30 ERA, five shutouts and 123 strikeouts. She also batted .316 (24-for-76) from the plate with eight doubles, 13 runs and 11 RBIs.

"As a coach and dad, I'm extremely proud of what she did this season," Donaldson said. "She shocked some people."

Johnson claimed the league MVP award. She batted a team-best .456 on the season (36-for-79) with six homers, three triples, six doubles, 12 stolen bases, 26 runs and 30 RBIs. Jode had a .835 slugging percentage.

"She accepted the role of leader after Vaneza was released from the team," Donaldson said.

Sophomore outfielder Ryan Norton earned first-team, VOL accolades. She batted .341 (30-for-88) with six doubles, 16 runs and nine RBIs.

Mika Johnson, Amanda Lampley and Taiylor Sakurada received second-team recognition.

Johnson, a senior outfielder, hit .434 (36-for-83) with two doubles, 32 stolen bases, 25 runs and seven RBIs.

Lamprey, a senior catcher, hit .333 (26-for-78) with two triples, three doubles, 12 runs and 12 RBIs.

Sakurada, a sophomore utility infielder, hit .238 (15-for-63) with eight runs and six RBIs.

Senior Shaye Farriester was recognized for her play at second base. The all-defensive team selection made just three errors this year. She hit .333 (28-for-84) with one homer, three triples, three doubles, 16 runs and 15 RBIs.

The Bulldogs also notched their first 20-win season under Donaldson's guidance. The third-year leader was named VOL Coach of the Year as well. Ceres High won 11 of its 14 conference games.

"This was the most stressful season I've ever had," Donaldson said. "It was tough on everyone. But we were still successful after the situation (Hoover's departure)."