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CHS athletes excel in respective sports
• Smith, Hott & Heffernan garner special Ceres Courier recognition
Brooklyn Heffernan honors
Brooklyn Heffernan has been named the Ceres Courier’s Female Athlete of the Year for the spring sport season. - photo by DALE BUTLER/ Courier file photo

Ceres High’s Verlis Smith and Erik Hott have been named the Ceres Courier’s co-Male Athletes of the Year for the spring sports season.

Bulldog Brooklyn Heffernan was selected Female Athlete of the Year.

Smith, Hott and Heffernan were standouts in track and field, golf and softball, respectively.

Heffernan, a senior pitcher, shared the conference’s Most Valuable Award with Los Banos’ Paige Smith and Beyer’s Delaney Pratt.

She was voted MVP of the Western Athletic Conference South Division as a junior and the WAC’s top player in the ninth grade.

“It’s Brooklyn’s third time being MVP in four years,” Ceres High head coach Mike Corsaut said. “It’s a remarkable feat. I don’t remember anybody from Ceres doing that. It just shows you how good she is. It’s pretty cool the league recognizes that, too.”

Heffernan also earned first-team all-WAC honors.

She posted a 14-6 record in the circle with a 1.58 ERA, 170 strikeouts and 20 walks.

Opponents batted just .175 from the plate versus Heffernan.

Heffernan also contributed on offense with a .351 batting average, three homers, two triples, eight doubles, 23 RBIs, 23 runs, 17 walks and nine stolen bases.

She had an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.091.

Heffernan made just one error while posting a .980 fielding percentage.

Heffernan helped lead the Bulldogs to a second-place finish in the WAC standings (12-2).

Heffernan had a career-record of 34-11 at pitcher with a 1.72 ERA, 407 strikeouts and 49 walks.

She batted .375 with seven homers, six triples, 27 doubles, 73 RBIs, 85 runs, 39 walks and 16 stolen bases in 79 games.

Heffernan had on-base, slugging and on-base plus slugging percentages of .470, .625 and 1.095, respectively.

“She’s one of the most talented players to come through Ceres,” Corsaut said. “There’s a whole list of them.”

“It’s been an honor to play here like Sis (Bates) and Callie (Nunes),” Heffernan said.

Heffernan signed a national letter of intent with San Francisco State University this past month.

“I’ve wanted to play college softball since I was 12 years old,” said Heffernan, who will major in nursing. “Ever since then, I’ve been putting in the work to get there. Getting this opportunity is pretty cool.”

“She’s going to do great as long as she continues to work hard,” Corsaut said. “She can still get better. She loves the game. She’s just so mentally tough. She doesn’t let things bother her.”

Hott enjoyed his best season to date with the Bulldogs.

He refused to let an injury derail his final year.

“This year, I had so many setbacks,” Hott said. “Right before we started practice in February, I dislocated my left kneecap while playing basketball. I rushed myself back and ended up dislocating it again in April. When it happened the second time, I was beating myself up because I could have prevented it if I wore a brace. It did cross my mind that I could be out for most if not all of high school golf.”

Hott had a memorable showing while competing in the postseason. 

He secured an individual berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament by virtue of his standout performance at Divisionals.

Hott claimed the Division-IV title.

“I do think a lot of people were shocked,” he said. “They didn’t know what my full potential was. For me, I set the bar high. I met my expectation.”

Hott shot a 1-under-par 71 at the Division-IV event, staged on May 9 at Mather Golf Course in Sacramento.

He had five birdies, nine pars and four bogeys.

Hott cemented his legacy as one of Ceres High’s greatest male golfers.

“I don’t know how many kids from Ceres that have taken first at Divisionals,” Bulldogs’ head coach Ron Edwards stated. “Erik said he was going to do it. He surprised me. He played great.”

Hott missed qualifying for NorCals by five strokes as he fired 5-over-par 76 while competing at Masters for the first time.

He shot a 12-over-par 84 at the WAC Championships.

Hott earned first-team all-conference honors for the second year in a row.

“Erik didn’t get (WAC) MVP because he missed our first match with a knee injury,” Edwards said. 

A transfer from Central Valley Christian Academy, Hott joined Ceres High’s boys golf team during his junior year.

“He showed up,” Edwards said. “I had no idea who he was. As soon as I saw his swing and short game, I knew he could play.”

“Overall, I really enjoyed high school golf,” said Hott, who plans to play the sport in college. “I loved every moment. It’s sad knowing it’s over.”

Smith earned four all-WAC patches for his dominance during his final season of track and field.

“It was fun coaching Verlis and watching him compete,” Ceres High leader Brett Johnson said. “He did everything in his power to win.”

Smith placed first in the long jump and 100, and second in the 200 at the league finals. He also ran the anchor leg on the Bulldogs’ runner-up 4x100 relay team.

Smith advanced to the Masters in the 100 and long jump after turning in standout performances at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships, staged May 11 and 13 at Weston Ranch High School.

He took second in the 100 (11.09), fourth in the long jump (20-111/2) and seventh in the 200 (23.72) at Divisionals.

Smith set a personal record in the 100.

Smith finished first in the long jump (21-061/4) and 100 (11.13), and second in the 200 (23.21) at the WAC Championships on May 5 at Mountain House. 

He set personal records in the long jump and 100.

Smith claimed individual titles in both the 100 (11.41) and 200 (22.97) at the Stanislaus County Championship Meet on March 18 at Riverbank High School. He set a personal record in the 200.

Smith was first in the 200 (23.59) at the Tiger Rustbuster Track Invitational on Feb. 25 at Patterson Community Stadium.

“I’m proud of myself,” said Smith, who joined Ceres High’s track and field program as a junior. “I challenged myself in a new sport. I had fun. I surprised myself a lot. I didn’t know how fast I was until I did track.”

Smith will continue his education and football career at Colorado State-Pueblo.

Verlis runs
Verlis Smith has been named the Ceres Courier’s co-Male Athlete of the Year for the spring sports season.
Erik Hott golfer
Erik Hott has been named the Ceres Courier’s co-Male Athlete of the Year for the spring sports season.