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East Union ends Ceres High's softball season
The bus ride from Ceres High to Northgate Complex was quiet.

Jode Johnson and her Bulldog varsity softball teammates knew what was at stake.

"No one was goofing around," she said. "Everybody was focused."

Ceres High lost 7-1 to East Union in a must-win Valley Oak League game on Friday and will miss the playoffs for the first time in 24 years.

Oakdale (15-1), East Union (13-3) and Sierra (11-5) all advanced to the postseason.

"We tried as hard as we could," Jode said. "This league is very competitive. The pressure got to everybody."

Johnson hit a solo homer in opening inning against East Union.

The Bulldogs never recovered after the Lancers scored five runs during their first at-bats.

East Union pitcher Kourtni McCall accumulated nine strikeouts.

"They deserved to win," Johnson said.

Ceres High and Sierra tied for third place in the VOL standings with identical records. The Timberwolves were awarded the conference's final playoff berth because they swept the season series.

Sierra also won its final five games.

The Bulldogs ended the year with back-to-back losses.

"It (making playoffs) should have been a given," Johnson said. "We didn't take in consideration what the other teams were trying to do too. It's very disappointing. But it could happen to anybody."

Ceres High's historic run came to an end.

Head coach Donnie Donaldson addressed his team after the elimination game.

"There were a lot of tears," Johnson said.