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A time to recollect, celebrate
Former CHS softball coaches, players proud of 2016 team's accomplishment
Callie Nunes (pictured left) and Danielle de la Porte led Ceres Highs varsity softball program to Sac-Joaquin Section titles 21 years apart. Nunes, whose middle name is Danielle, was named after de la Porte. Their families are super close. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Ceres High School's varsity softball program won its first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section crown in 1995.

The Bulldogs ended a 21-year drought between titles by edging out Benicia 3-2 in the Division-III finals on May 26.

Former Ceres High coaches and players offered their reaction to the 2016 team's championship run.

"I'm really proud of them," said Danielle de la Porte, who posted a 27-5 record and earned all-state honors at pitcher while leading the Bulldogs to the Division-II title over two decades ago. "It's not something that is easy to do. It's really difficult. It takes a little luck. It takes talent. It takes a team effort. By the time you get to the title game, everybody is exhausted. I didn't realize how big of a deal it was when we won it all. I was a sophomore."

Mike Corsaut guided Ceres High to a 107-30-3 overall record, five postseason appearances and four conference titles during his five-year tenure as head coach (2002-06).

"You got to rank them better than the teams I had," he said. "They won a section title. They deserve everything they got. I don't think it's a fluke that they won. I considered them a favorite going in because of their senior leadership. I helped coach them (Nicole Bates, Mahlena O'Neal, Sabrina Baisdon, Mackenzie Veuve and Jessica Arreola) at the varsity level when they were freshmen. It was fun to see them again."

Corsaut made the drive from Waterford to Sacramento to watch the finals.

"I wanted to support the program," he said. "It's the only game I've gone to all year. I've been busy with my kids and work."

Sarah Norwood was a pitcher on Ceres High's section runner-up teams in 1993 and 1991.

"I'm proud of them," she said. "It's good for the program and school. It's extremely difficult to win a section title. We never won it all. We fell short. Everything has to be clicking. Your team has to be peaking. There's a lot of pressure."

Local pitching guru Jimmy Dyson was an assistant coach on the Bulldogs' first section-championship squad.

"I still remember talking to Phil de la Porte after we won the title," Dyson said. "He told me to enjoy it because it might not happen again. I thought we were going to win it the next two years. We had great players, not just pitchers. The whole team was close."

Ceres High annexed both of its section championships at the Sacramento Softball Complex.

The Bulldogs compiled a near-perfect 5-1 record in the ultra-competitive Division-III playoffs this year.

Just about everybody on the team contributed.

Junior pitcher Callie Nunes shined on the biggest stage.

Ceres High also executed on both offense and defense.

"Getting through league is tough enough," Corsaut said. "When you get to sections, you're playing the best teams around. You have to be clicking on all cylinders. I saw it in their eyes. They were fired up. They were confident. They knew someday this could happen. I'm so happy for the girls. They've gone through a lot to get there. That says a lot about their character."

"Something magical has to happen when you win these kinds of things," Dyson said. "I wish I could have been there to watch. Everything must have fallen into place for them. They played great together and did everything right."