Ceres High's varsity softball team caught a major break when Los Banos edged Pacheco 2-1 in eight innings on April 28.
The loss gave the first-place Bulldogs a one-game lead over second-place Pacheco in the Western Athletic Conference standings going into the final day of the regular season.
Ceres High lost 1-0 to host Pacheco in nine innings on April 30. The two teams shared the WAC title with identical 10-2 records.
"We knew going into the game the worse we would be was co-league champs," Bulldogs head coach Angela Durossette said. "It might have taken too much pressure off the girls. They deserved to win the game. We didn't hit well."
Ceres High captured its second straight WAC title.
The Bulldogs dropped to 20-7 on the year and secured the WAC's No. 1 seed for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III postseason tournament.
Pacheco improved to 13-14 overall and earned the conference's No. 2 playoff berth.
"Our goal was to win league," Durossette said. "We did but we had to share it. It's disappointing when you know you're a better team. Now, our focus is to go deep in the playoffs. My concern is having a 12-day break between games."
Ceres High mustered just three hits off Pacheco's Gia Rodoni as Mahlena O'Neal, Rayohna Sagapolu and Nicole Bates all singled.
Rodoni, who earned a scholarship to Divison-I Baylor, totaled 20 strikeouts.
Gia gave up three earned runs and nine hits with 12 strikeouts during Pacheco's 8-1 loss to Ceres High on March 31.
"She had something to prove after the first time we played her," Durossette said. "She threw lights out. We made her look really good. We couldn't even put the ball in play."
Pacheco broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the ninth inning thanks to a Bulldog error.
"There wasn't a celebration after the game," Durossette said. "The girls were pretty disappointed in themselves. We were all pretty upset."
Sagapolu, Ceres High's second-year pitcher, sustained her first conference loss.
Rayohna allowed two hits and struck out 11 batters in 82/3 innings.
"I felt bad for her (Sagapolu) after the game," Durossette said. "She pitched really well. They had a hard time getting around her, too. She did everything we asked her to do. It's tough to win a game when you strike out 20 times."
Host Ceres High topped crosstown-rival Central Valley 9-0 on April 28.
Bulldog Callie Nunes pitched a complete-game shutout, tallying 13 strikeouts and three walks over seven innings. She gave up just two hits.
Ceres High broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth inning as it tallied eight runs.
The Bulldogs collected 14 hits off Hawk hurler Jessica Alvarez.
Nunes batted 1-for-2 from the plate with one RBI.
O'Neal batted 2-for-4 with one homer, three RBIs and two runs.
Nicole Bates batted 1-for-4 with one run.
Ariel Knights batted 3-for-3 with one RBI and two runs.
Sabrina Baisdon batted 1-for-3 with one double, one RBI and one run.
Jessica Arreola batted 1-for-2 with one RBI and one run.
Mackenzie Veuve batted 1-for-4 with one double and one run.
Ali Lowman batted 1-for-2 with one run.
Cameron Diaz, Shelby Veuve and Kinsey Ward all singled.
Gabriela Bonales and Yescenia Godinez accounted for Central Valley's two hits.
The Hawks batted just .091 from the plate as a team.
The Division-III playoffs will get underway on May 12. The 16-team tournament is being staged at the Sacramento Softball Complex.
"We're good enough to win it all," Durossette said. "But we can't make mistakes. If we don't practice well, we're going to struggle."