Ceres High’s 10th-seeded softball team suffered a 7-1 road loss while battling seventh-seeded Merced in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs on May 17.
The Bulldogs committed two errors on defense.
“We didn’t play our best softball,” Ceres High head coach Mike Corsaut said. “We tip our hats to Merced. They came ready to play.”
The Bulldogs compiled a 19-9 overall record and placed second overall in the Western Athletic Conference standings (12-2) this spring.
The Bears finished 17-7 and first in the Central California Conference (11-1). Merced lost 4-1 to second-seeded Central Catholic in the quarterfinals on May 19.
“We had a great season,” Corsaut said. “I’m proud of the girls. They battled until the end. The competitive fire was there. That’s what makes them special.”
Ceres High played shorthanded versus Merced.
Ava Montesdeoca, leadoff hitter and second baseman for the Bulldogs, exited the game in the bottom of the first inning with an ankle injury.
Isabela Giraldes, Ceres High’s cleanup hitter and first baseman, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third inning.
Giraldes and Montesdeoca were both injured while playing defense.
Montesdeoca batted .587 this year with two homers, two triples, 10 doubles, 24 RBIs and 50 runs.
Giraldes batted .511 with one homer, five triples, nine doubles, 43 RBIs and 26 runs.
“It impacted us a lot,” Corsaut said. “It would have been closer. But injuries are a part of the game.”
Merced pitcher Melody Gomez (13-5) limited Ceres High to just four hits.
She had 11 strikeouts.
“It wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen,” Corsaut said. “We just didn’t hit the ball well. Sometimes, that happens.”
Bulldog Brooklyn Heffernan batted 1-for-2 from the plate with one run.
Maddie Schultz batted 1-for-3 with one RBI.
Alayna De La Torre and Alizae Cole both singled.
Heffernan, Ceres High’s ace pitcher and a San Francisco State commit, gave up five earned runs and four hits with four strikeouts and three walks in four innings.
Cole also contributed at pitcher.
She yielded one run and two hits with three strikeouts and no walks in two innings.
Heffernan posted a 14-6 record this spring with a 1.58 ERA, 170 strikeouts and just 20 walks.
“I’m sad for her,” Corsaut said. “We wanted to end the season better.”
The Bulldogs scored their lone run in the top of the second inning.
Heffernan singled, stole second and third, and raced home on Schultz’s single to left field.
Ahead 1-0, Ceres High allowed two runs in the bottom of the third, four in the fourth and one in the fifth.
“I was confident going into the game,” Corsaut said. “I thought we were going to beat them. They had key hits at key times. They also have nine seniors. They’re battle-tested.”
Ceres High will lose three players to graduation, including Heffernan, De La Torre and Celeste Leon.
Heffernan was a four-year standout.
She amassed a 34-11 record at pitcher with a 1.72 ERA, 407 strikeouts, 49 walks, two shutouts, eight complete games and one save.
Heffernan batted .375 with seven homers, six triples, 27 doubles, 73 RBIs, 85 runs, 39 walks and 16 stolen bases.
She had an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.113.
“Brooklyn did a fantastic job,” Corsaut said. “She’s going to do great in college.”