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Hawks fourth overall in WAC standings
Central Valley improves on last years 3-9 mark
Nicholette Mendez helped lead Central Valley High Schools varsity softball team to a program-best 9-9 overall record. The Hawks placed fourth in WAC play (5-7). - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Striving to secure its first-ever playoff berth, Central Valley High School's varsity softball team dropped out of contention during the final week of the Western Athletic Conference season.

The Hawks posted a 9-9 overall record and placed fourth in conference standings (5-7).

Ceres High (12-0), Los Banos (7-5) and Pacheco (7-5) represented the WAC in the Division-IV postseason tournament last week at Stockton's Arnaiz Softball Complex.

Los Banos and Pacheco secured the league's final two playoff berths after winning tiebreaker games versus Central Catholic (7-5).

"This is the best season Central Valley's had to date," Hawks head coach Kristen Ghimenti said. "I'm proud of them. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We played hard."

Central Valley won three straight games prior to losing to Ceres High, Pacheco and Central Catholic.

Baylor commit Gia Rodoni struck out 17 batters and allowed just one hit during Pacheco's 5-1 victory over the Hawks on May 5 in Los Banos.

Central Valley pitcher Lexy Cordova yielded three hits, fanned eight and walked three in six innings. None of the five runs Cordova allowed were earned.

Freshman Gaby Bonales accounted for the Hawks' lone hit.

The Panthers grabbed a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Central Catholic routed Central Valley by the mercy rule, 10-0 in six innings, on May 6 in Modesto.

Lindsey Alexander, Alyssa Costa, Yescenia Godinez and Sarah McElroy all singled for the Hawks.

Cordova surrendered seven earned runs and 10 hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

Central Valley struggled to a 3-9 record in WAC play last season.

"People noticed us this year," Ghimenti said. "That's an accomplishment in itself."

Cordova, Sarah McElroy, Nicholette Mendez and Jasmine Henson will be lost to graduation.

Lexy and Sarah were four-year starters.

"It's going to be tough to replace them," Ghimenti said. "We're hoping other girls will step up and fill those leadership roles."