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Coaches reward local talent
Brayden Clark
Three members of Ceres High’s baseball program earned all-league honors this spring. Brayden Clark was named to the WAC Second Team. - photo by Dale Butler

A combined seven members from Central Valley’s and Ceres High’s baseball programs were honored for their stellar play this spring.

Hawk teammates Ryan Estermann, Fernando Dominguez, Garret Garcia and Diego Delahoya were recognized during the Central California Conference’s year-end head coaches’ meeting at Geneo’s Pizza in Livingston on May 8.

Estermann, Dominguez, Garcia and Delahoya filled key roles as the fourth-place Hawks (5-7) fell one win short of qualifying for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoffs. Central Valley amassed a 14-13 overall record.

Estermann was voted the CCC’s Utility Player of the Year.

The senior logged playing time at multiple positions, including pitcher, second base, shortstop and outfielder.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for him,” Hawks’ head coach Brad Bussard said. “He did anything and everything for us. You can’t ask for much more than that.”

Estermann batted .333 from the plate on the year with four homers, nine doubles, 19 RBIs and 22 runs.

He posted a 5-2 record on the mound with a 1.69 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 411/3 innings.

Estermann was a four-year varsity contributor.

He hit .304 with five homers, three triples, 21 doubles, 61 RBIs and 50 runs in 80 career games.

“He’s definitely one of the better players I’ve coached,” Bussard said. “He got bigger, faster and stronger. He’s super competitive with everything. When you have that mentality, you can be very successful.”

Dominguez and Garcia were both selected to the CCC Second Team.

Dominguez, a freshman catcher, batted .233 from the plate with six doubles, 11 RBIs and seven runs.

“Kudos to him,” Bussard said. “He did a really good job for us all year. He’s got a smooth left-handed swing. He knows the game very well. It helps when you’re a catcher. He also plays high-end travel ball.”

Dominguez didn’t perform like a first-year varsity player.

“It was a decision made almost instantly once seeing him on the field,” Bussard said while talking about Dominguez’s promotion. “I heard good things about him before he came to Central Valley. His future is definitely bright.”

Garcia, a junior first baseman, batted .266 from the plate with two homers, eight doubles, 11 RBIs and nine runs.

“His average skyrocketed drastically during the second half of the season,” Bussard said. “He’s a big threat at the plate. He’s got a ton of power.”

Delahoya, a senior, was a CCC honorable-mention selection.

He pitched and played shortstop for Central Valley.

“We wouldn’t have been as successful as we were without him,” Bussard said. “He’s the reason we went above .500 this year. He only had two bad outings all season, including just one in league.”

Delahoya compiled a 3-3 record with a 2.39 ERA and 66 strikeouts while filling in for 2022 CCC honorable-mention pitcher Chris Garcia, who was limited to just nine innings this spring due to arm fatigue.

“Diego stepped up in a big way for us,” Bussard said. “I always felt Diego had some of the best stuff on our pitching staff. He really worked his butt of this offseason and it really paid off for him. He put it all together this year.”

Delahoya collected six hits, one RBI and seven RBIs on offense.

Bulldog teammates Joshua Prestridge, Brayden Clark and Jorge Gonzalez garnered recognition at the Western Athletic Conference’s year-end head coaches’ meeting on May 10 at the Dust Bowl in Turlock.

Prestridge, Clark and Gonzalez filled major roles as Ceres High (7-17, 6-8) earned the Western Athletic Conference’s fourth-and-final playoff spot.

“They’ll definitely be missed next year,” Ceres High head coach Raul Godinez said.

Prestridge, a senior third baseman and the Bulldogs’ cleanup hitter, was named to the WAC First Team.

He batted .349 from the plate with one homer, four doubles, five RBIs and eight runs.

“Everything you want in a player, he brought to the table,” Godinez said. “He handled pressure situations well. That rubbed off on a lot of younger guys.”

Clark and Gonzalez were both named to the WAC Second Team.

Clark, a junior pitcher/second baseman, had a breakout season with the Bulldogs.

“I’m not really surprised,” Godinez said. “He’s a competitor. Brayden has heart. That’s one thing you can’t teach.”

Clark compiled a 5-1 record on the mound with 33 strikeouts.

“No matter who we faced, he did his job,” Godinez said.

Clark’s main position was second base prior to being converted to a pitcher.

“He doesn’t put pressure on himself,” Godinez said. “He has fun in big situations.”

Clark will be Ceres High’s ace pitcher for the second year in a row next season.

“He’ll pick up right where he left off,” Godinez said. “He’ll use this as momentum and continue to grow.”

Gonzalez, a senior, started in center field when he didn’t pitch.

He batted .274 from the plate with one homer, three doubles, 21 RBIs and eight runs.

Gonzalez had 56 strikeouts and 31 innings as a relief pitcher.

“He’s a great ball player,” Godinez said. “He really gets after it. His intensity is high. In baseball, that’s a good thing.”

standout Ryan Estermann
Central Valley baseball standout Ryan Estermann was named the CCC’s Utility Player of the Year. - photo by Dale Butler