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CV closes competitive softball gap versus CHS
Hawks drop season finale, 2-1, in extra innings to Bulldogs
Karina Pulido (10) gets mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning run in Ceres Highs 2-1 victory over crosstown-rival Central Valley on May 3. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Upperclassmen Andrea Duran and Karina Pulido played pivotal roles in propelling Ceres High's varsity softball team past Central Valley during Senior Day.

Duran's full-count walk-off single scored Pulido from second base as the host Bulldogs edged the crosstown-rival Hawks 2-1 in extra innings on May 3.

"There was pressure," said Andrea, who struck out her previous three at-bats. "I took a deep breath and relaxed. I stayed confident. I saw my pitch. This is what I've worked for forever. I knew I had to come through as a senior. The girls depend on me a lot."

"It feels good to end the season on a good note," Pulido added. "We wanted it so bad."

Ceres High compiled a 6-10 overall record and placed fourth in the Western Athletic Conference (5-5) this spring.

Central Valley finished 7-11 and fifth (3-7) in the WAC standings.

The Bulldogs also improved their head to-head record versus the Hawks to a perfect 24-0.

"We've never lost to Central Valley in softball," Pulido said. "We wanted to keep the streak going."

"We all had confidence," Duran added. "We knew what we had to do. We handled business."

Central Valley came close to beating Ceres High for the first time during the WAC regular-season finale.

"We played really hard," Hawks' head coach Regina Selfridge said. "We had fun. There are a couple of things we could have done differently. Leaving girls on base isn't ideal. Our team is really young. For us to be as competitive as we are, I'm proud."

Central Valley squandered potential opportunities to take leads in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings.

The Hawks stranded five runners on base, including two in the top of the eighth. Scarlett Lloyd and Nayeli Pelayo led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Ceres High pitcher Rebecca DeLeon struck out two of the next three batters to get out of the jam.

Ceres High dashed Central Valley's upset bid in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Pulido, who batted 2-for-2 from the plate with one RBI and one run, laced a double over Hawk centerfielder Vanessa Oliver's head.

Duran fouled off more than six pitches prior to collecting her first hit of the game.

Andrea delivered in the clutch after struggling against Scarlett.

"My heart was racing but it was a good feeling," Lloyd stated. "She took the pitch and drove it. What else can I say?"

"She's a great pitcher," Duran said. "I have a lot of respect for her."

Central Valley grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Pelayo knocked in Brianna Quiroz with a single.

Ceres High battled back in the third inning.

Isabel Vizcaino scored from third on Pulido's sacrifice bunt.

Lloyd and Ceres High shortstop Vianney Perez both saved runs by throwing out runners at home plate in the seventh and third innings, respectively.

"We had everything going for us-hitting, fielding and pitching," Lloyd said. "It was close. It came down to the last inning and pitch."

Added Pulido: "They have more motivation to beat us now."

Lloyd was dominant in the circle.

She allowed just two runs-one earned-and four hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks while going the distance.

DeLeon gave up just one run, scattered 10 hits, struck out seven and walked none over eight innings.

"I'm really proud of my team," Lloyd said. "That's how we should have played all season. We had fun. We had good energy."