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Franksen had a stellar career
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Meghan Franksen had a storied career at Ceres High School. The 2005 graduate excelled in athletics and in the classroom.

Phil de la Porte, Ceres High athletic director and assistant varsity girls basketball coach, didn't hesitate to call Franksen one of the school's all-time greatest student-athletes.

"I'd rank her in the top three," he said. "She's the most exceptional athlete I've had the pleasure to coach in my 31 years."

Franksen accepted a scholarship to play Division I softball at Kent State University, which is located in Ohio. More than 30 colleges expressed interest, including the University of the Pacific, University of Hawaii, UC Berkeley, Sacramento State and Saint Mary's. Franksen received a letter from UCLA during her junior year.

Meghan visited Kent State with her family, Nov. 4-6. She signed with the Golden Flashes on April 29.

"They're paying for everything," said Cliff Franksen, Meghan's father.

"I plan on seeing a lot of her games. I'll probably go up there four or five times. I'll be a junkie."

The 2005 Kent State softball team finished fourth in the Mid-American Conference East Division with a 10-11 mark and posted a 25-27 overall record.

"Meghan is a very versatile athlete who could play anywhere on the field," said Kent State coach Karen Linder in a sports information department release. "She has great range and a solid arm which will enable her to play either the left side of the infield or in the outfield. Meghan is an outstanding student and is getting an academic scholarship along with her athletic scholarship."

Franksen leaves for Kent State on Aug. 20.

"I'm happy," she said. "I'm thankful I got the opportunity to get my school paid for. All of my hard work is finally starting to pay off."

Franksen was a three-sport athlete at Ceres High. She earned 12 varsity letters, including four in softball, basketball and volleyball.

A four-year starter, Franksen guided the softball team to three league championships, including the inaugural Modesto Metro Conference championship this year, and four playoff appearances.

Meghan garnered first-team, all-league honors every season.

"It's just so much fun to watch her play softball," said Ceres coach Mike Corsaut. "She can run. She can hit for power. She makes the hard plays look routine."

Franksen committed just seven errors at shortstop in three years. She started in right field as a freshman.

"I enjoy playing defense," said Franksen, who made three errors in 2003, none in 2004 and four in 2005. "That's my thing."

Franksen was known for her defensive prowess in basketball. The second-team, all-MMC selection helped lead the Bulldogs to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II crown at Arco Arena in March.

Franksen participated in the playoffs all four years.

Franksen joined the volleyball team during her freshman year.

The first two seasons, the Bulldogs compiled a combined 8-28 record in conference play. The last two years, they went 16-17 in league.

Franksen and Ceres made history when they secured a berth in the postseason for the first time in five years in 2004-05.

Franksen, a first-team, all-MMC selection, led the Bulldogs to an upset win over Monticello Empire League champion Benicia High School in the opening round of the playoffs.

Ceres also beat Beyer, the MMC champion, during the regular season.

Franksen blossomed into a great softball player because she refused to take a break.

"I've been playing softball for 13 years," she said.

"It's a part of me and it always will be."

From age five to nine, Franksen participated in the Ceres Youth Baseball organization's recreational softball league.

"I always knew at a young age she was a special player," Cliff said. "When she was five, she hit the ball so hard I thought it would hurt the other girls."

Franksen started playing competitive softball when she was 10.

She has suited up for a handful of elite A-division teams, including the California Rock-N-Fire (12s/14s/18s), California Grapettes (12s/18s) and United Sports Academy Gold (18s).

Meghan has played in more than 600 games, between 100 to 125 per year, since the age of 12.

Then there's practice, mandatory and voluntary.

"She's always working on her game," Cliff said.

Franksen was just as relentless when it came to studying.

"That's my first priority over sports," said Meghan, who accumulated a 3.5 GPA. "It's not always easy. But I keep it going. It's a routine. Practice, games and homework."

Franksen was awarded the Kent State President's Scholarship, offered to incoming freshmen with good academic record and national test scores.

Franksen also won the Ceres High Principal's Cup.

The award, which is voted on by faculty, teachers and staff, goes to the best overall student.

Academic and athletic performance were taken into account.

"She's well-rounded," Cliff said.

Meghan's two older sisters also earned the Principal's Cup. Courtnie and Brittany graduated from Ceres High in 2000 and 2002, respectively.

"I'm proud of all of my children," Cliff said.

The daughter of Cliff Franksen and Kim Austin, Meghan plans to major in business.

Kent State opens its season in February.

"Meghan has all of the tools to be good. But she has to continue to work hard," Corsaut said.

Anything less would be uncharacteristic. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier