Ceres High's varsity softball team qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the sixth year in a row and captured its fourth straight Western Athletic Conference title in 2017.
The 2018 Bulldogs refuse to lower their expectations despite losing WAC Most Valuable Player Rayohna Sagapolu (San Jose State) and two-time Pitcher of the Year Callie Nunes (Concordia University) to graduation.
"Our team will not be the same without Callie and Rayohna but we can still be just as successful," second-year head coach Ashley Nicolich said.
Ceres High returns six players from last year's team, including Vianney Perez (sophomore shortstop), Andrea Duran (senior second baseman), Branda Villalpando (junior catcher), Rebecca DeLeon (sophomore pitcher/third baseman), Priscilla Chavez (junior first baseman) and Karina Pulido (senior centerfielder).
Perez and Duran were both selected to the WAC First Team a season ago.
Just a freshman, Vianney batted .375 from the plate with seven homers, three triples, six doubles, 34 RBIs, 28 runs and just three errors in 29 games.
Perez ranked first in the WAC in runs (17), second in homers (3) and RBIs (17), sixth in doubles (2), seventh in batting average (.472) and slugging percentage (.777), and 10th in on-base percentage (.513).
Andrea batted .274 with one homer, four doubles, 13 RBIs and 17 runs.
Villalpando earned second-team all-league honors.
She collected one double, five RBIs and four runs.
DeLeon had two doubles, 10 RBIs and eight runs.
Chavez had four RBIs and 12 runs.
Pulido had one single, one RBI and one run.
Ceres High's top newcomers are Shania Evans (junior third baseman), Cheralyn Durossette (freshman pitcher/third baseman/outfielder) and Lysaida Munoz (freshman utility player).
"Our strengths are in our offense," Nicolich said. "Everyone in the lineup can hit. Our pitcher Rebecca is great. We just need the defense to back her up."
Ceres High proved a lot of people wrong last spring by maintaining its tradition of excellence.
Competing with a revamped roster, the Bulldogs amassed a 20-9 overall record, finished in the top eight in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs and successfully defended their WAC title (9-1).
Ceres High outscored its conference opponents, 85-15.
"My expectations are pretty high because we have such talented players," Nicolich said. "If we can learn to play together, we will be very successful."