Ceres High's varsity softball program has assured itself a top-six finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoff tournament.
The Bulldogs (22-8) won two of three games at the 16-team, double-elimination event, which got underway on May 12 and will end today.
"The girls know they have to play better to go farther," head coach Angela Durossette said. "They feel the pressure. I try not to add to it."
Fourth-seeded Ceres High nearly upset top-seeded Pioneer.
The Bulldogs stranded 13 runners on base and committed three errors en route to a 2-1 loss to the Patriots in extra innings on Saturday at the Sacramento Softball Complex.
Pioneer scored the winning run off a Ceres High blunder in the bottom of the eighth inning.
"We should have won," Durossette said. "They capitalized on our mistakes. That's what good teams do. If we don't make mistakes, we're really tough to beat."
Ceres High lost despite collecting 11 hits on offense.
Rayohna Sagapolu batted 1-for-5 from the plate with one RBI.
Andrea Duran batted 2-for-4 with one run.
Ariel Knights batted 3-for-4.
Jessica Arreola and Mahlena O'Neal both batted 2-for-4.
Sabrina Baisdon batted 1-for-4.
"We should have scored six or seven runs," said Durossette, whose team left the bases loaded and runners on second and third base twice during the contest. "We didn't make good adjustments at the plate."
Ceres High evened the score at 1-1 in the top of the sixth inning.
Sagapolu plated Duran with a two-out single.
Bulldog starting pitcher Callie Nunes was dealt a hard-luck loss.
Nunes yielded one run and three hits with nine strikeouts and two walks in seven innings.
Callie exited the game after walking Pioneer's first batter in the eighth inning.
"That's the best Callie's thrown all season," Durossette said. "She did great. She's tough to hit. Her ball moves well. It was a really good game. We watched them (Pioneer) play. They're good. They're fundamentally sound."
Ceres High defeated No. 12 Cordova by the mercy rule, 10-0 in five innings, on Friday.
The Lancers stunned No. 5 Oakdale 6-1 three days earlier.
"We really wanted to win," Durossette said. "We played well. We made no mistakes."
Sagapolu allowed no runs and two hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
"She generated a lot of groundballs," Durossette said.
Mahlena O'Neal batted 2-for-2 with three RBIs and one run for Ceres High, which totaled 11 hits.
Nicole Bates batted 2-for-3 with two runs.
Sagapolu batted 1-for-2 with two runs.
Baisdon and Duran both batted 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Arreola and Nunes batted 1-for-3 with one run.
Mackenzie Veuve knocked in two runs and scored once.
Knights and Shelby Veuve chipped in with one run each.
Ceres High edged No. 13 River Valley 2-0 on May 12 in the opening round.
Backup catcher Adryana Knights started in place of O'Neal, who missed the game due to illness. Mahlena, Ceres High's No. 3 hitter, didn't make the trip to Sacramento.
"Not having our starting catcher could have affected us," Durossette said. "We had to make adjustments. We changed our lineup."
Adryana threw out a Falcon runner on a steal attempt, tagged out a River Valley runner at home plate and caught two popups.
"She did everything we asked her to do," Durossette said. "I'm proud of her."
Nunes had 11 strikeouts while starring at pitcher.
Callie gave up no runs and three hits in seven innings.
Nunes and Adryana Knights led Ceres High's junior-varsity softball team to a perfect 12-0 record in Western Athletic Conference play in 2014.
"She caught Callie all year last season," Durossette said.
The Bulldogs struggled on offense, finishing 4-for-20 with nine strikeouts.
Baisdon batted 1-for-2 with one RBI and one run.
Ali Lowman batted 1-for-2 with one RBI.
Bates batted 2-for-3.
Shelby Veuve tallied one run.
"We weren't as strong offensively as we should have been," Durossette said. "They played us tough."
Ceres High faced No. 6 Vanden in an elimination game on Monday.
The final score was unavailable before press time.
"The worse we're going to do is sixth place," Durossette said. "That's not bad. That's good for our little town."