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CHS teammates Sagapolu, Nunes claim WAC awards
Ceres High varsity softball standout Rayohna Sagapolu has been named Most Valuable Player of the Western Athletic Conference. Sagapolu helped lead the Bulldogs to their fourth straight league title. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High varsity softball standout Rayohna Sagapolu has been voted Most Valuable Player of the Western Athletic Conference.

Callie Nunes was named WAC Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Vianney Perez, Andrea Duran and Shelby Veuve were selected to the WAC First Team.

Branda Villalpando received second-team all-league honors.

"I'm happy," Bulldogs' first-year head coach Ashley Nicolich said. "They all deserved it."

"Every person who got something earned it," Nunes added.

Sagapolu, Nunes, Perez, Duran, Veuve and Villalpando helped Ceres High continue its runs of excellence in the WAC.

The Bulldogs compiled a 9-1 record en route to claiming their fourth consecutive conference title.

"I expected us to take league," Nunes said. "It wasn't a big surprise."

"We worked hard for it," Sagapolu stated.

"Winning is fun," Nicolich added.

Rayohna, a senior third baseman, batted .645 with five homers, six doubles, 21 RBIs and 14 runs.

"I had big shoes to fill with Mahlena O'Neal and Nicole being MVPs the previous years," Sagapolu said. "I got it because of my hitting. It was a goal I had ever since freshman year. It's really special. I don't know how else to explain it."

"She's just a really good player," Nicolich said. "She's fun to coach."

Nunes, a senior pitcher, posted a 9-1 record with a 0.89 ERA, 113 strikeouts and just 13 walks.

"It's nice to be recognized," Nunes said. "All of my hard work paid off. My team played so well behind me."

"I doubt anybody else has worked as hard as she did," Sagapolu said. "Freshmen year she was just another pitcher. She just kept getting better and more confident. She earned her spot."

"Callie is very humble," Nicolich said. "She doesn't act like she's the best."

Perez, a freshman shortstop, batted .472 with three homers, two doubles, 17 RBIs, 17 runs and one stolen base.

"She'll have a shot at being MVP in the future," Sagapolu said. "You can tell she's very motivated. She loves the game. She's willing to work to be better."

Duran, a junior second baseman, batted .459 with one homer, three doubles, nine RBIs and 11 runs.

Veuve, a junior outfielder, batted .452 with one double, one RBI, 15 runs and four stolen bases.

Villalpando, a sophomore catcher, batted .323 with two RBIs and one run.

Surprisingly, Nicolich did not win WAC Coach of the Year despite leading a program hit hard by graduation to continued success.

Ceres High returned just four players from 2016.

The 2017 Bulldogs outscored their opponents, 85-15.

"A lot of people didn't think we were going to win conference," said Nicolich, whose team closed out WAC play with eight straight victories. "After seeing them play, I didn't feel any pressure at all. I had expectations for them. I'm excited to build the program. We can only get better."

"This team was so much different," Nunes said. "We had new girls and coaches. It was a completely new experience, but a good one."