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Bates, ONeal earn FloSoftball All-American honors
Duo led CHS to Division-III section crown
Ceres Nicole Bates was named to the FloSoftball All-American First Team for the second year in a row. - photo by DALE BUTLER/Courier file photo

Nicole Bates and Mahlena O'Neal wrapped up their prep softball careers with Ceres High School in May.

Bates and O'Neal filled major roles while leading the Bulldogs to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III championship.

Nicole and Mahlena were both recognized as FloSoftball All-Americans this past month.

"This type of stuff doesn't always happen," said Angela Durossette, Bates' and O'Neal's head coach for the past two seasons. "I'm excited for them. Both of them were leaders. They were competitive. They're going to be tough to replace."

"I'm super proud of Mo," Nicole said. "She deserves everything she's got. She's worked hard."

"It's awesome," O'Neal added. "We're representing our city and where we come from."

Nicole was selected to the FloSoftball All-American First Team for the second year in a row.

The standout shortstop batted .571 from the plate with five homers, four triples, nine doubles, 33 RBIs, 45 runs and 14 stolen bases during her final season with the Bulldogs.

"It's always humbling to get an honor like that," said Bates, who earned a scholarship to the University of Washington. "It's a big accomplishment."

O'Neal was one of five catchers in the country to earn second-team honors.

She batted .479 with nine homers, 12 doubles, 43 RBIs and nine runs.

"I found out through my college coach," said O'Neal, who will continue her softball career at the University of Georgia. "He sent me a text the day it came out and congratulated me. I was confused. I don't really pay attention to all of that stuff."

Teammates on Ceres High's varsity softball team since the ninth grade, Bates and O'Neal led the Bulldogs to 85 victories, one section championship, three Western Athletic Conference titles and four playoff appearances.

Ceres High posted a 23-5 overall record and won 11 of 12 games en route to a first-place finish in the WAC standings this past spring.

The Bulldogs captured their second section crown, ending a 21-year drought between titles.

"It's been a really fun experience with Mahlena and my other friends I've been playing with since t-ball," Bates said. "It's still hard to believe. We won't be playing together anymore. We're leaving for college in a couple of months."