Ceres High’s Isaac Vizcaino and Brooklyn Heffernan have been named the Courier’s Male and Female Newcomer Athletes of the Year for the spring sports campaign.
Heffernan (softball) and Vizcaino (boys track and field) both had productive first seasons with their respective teams.
“Being able to pitch and play (at the varsity level as a freshman) was an amazing experience,” she said. “It was a great challenge. I’m really happy I was able to help my team out.”
“I surprised myself this year,” he said. “I’m happy to see all my hard work pay off.”
Heffernan was voted co-Most Valuable Player of the WAC.
She started in centerfield when she wasn’t pitching.
“I kind of had an idea of what she could do,” Ceres High head coach Mike Corsaut said. “I watched her play the last two years in junior high. I saw her pitch during travel ball last summer. She doesn’t let things bother her.”
“I was surprised I was MVP given all the talent on the team and in the league. Playing travel ball helped with the transition. I’m used to the higher competition and handling certain situations.”Brooklyn Heffernan
“I was surprised I was MVP given all the talent on the team and in the league,” Heffernan said. “Playing travel ball helped with the transition. I’m used to the higher competition and handling certain situations.”
Heffernan batted .388 from the plate with two homers, two triples, nine doubles, 24 RBIs and 24 runs on the year.
She had slugging and on-base percentages of .625 and .451, respectively.
She drove in the game-winning run with a two-out double during Ceres High’s 3-2 WAC title-clinching victory over Los Banos.
“That shows how mentally tough that girl is,” Corsaut said.
Heffernan posted an 8-2 record at pitcher with a 1.58 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 71 innings. “She commands her pitches,” Corsaut said. “When she’s on, she’s lights out.”
Heffernan tossed a no-hitter against Lathrop. She struck out seven batters.
“She almost threw a perfect game,” Corsaut said.
Heffernan made no errors on defense this season.
Heffernan filled a major role as Ceres High posted a 19-6 overall record, qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs and claimed the WAC championship with a near-perfect 13-1 mark.
The Bulldogs went 6-10 and struggled to a fourth-place finish in the WAC (5-5) in 2018.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Heffernan said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have played as well as I did. When I was down, they picked me up.”
“She surprised a lot of people,” Corsaut added. “She got better because she put in the work every day.”
Heffernan takes pitching lessons from guru Jimmy Dyson at Rainbow Fields Sports Academy.
“I’ve been going to him since I was 9 or 10,” Heffernan said. “He’s one of the reasons I got to where I am today. He’s a great coach. Hitting, I work at home and with my travel team (NorCal Firecrackers-Mettler). My end goal is to play softball in college.”
Heffernan hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Ceres High standouts Sis Bates (Washington), Mahlena O’Neal (Georgia) and Callie Nunes (Concordia).
“It’s crazy thinking about all the talent that’s come from Ceres High,” she said. “I could be the next one. I know if I put in a lot of work I have the potential to get where they’re at.”
Vizcaino, a transfer from Modesto High, proved doctors wrong by developing into a standout athlete.
He had knee surgeries in a three-year span, including two in the eighth grade and one as a sophomore.
Vizcaino suffered injuries playing football and basketball. “If you put your mind to something, you can accomplish it no matter how big your obstacles are,” said Vizcaino, who played quarterback for Ceres High in the fall. “Luckily, I had my dad and mom to keep my head in the game.”
Vizcaino placed first overall in the 800 with a time of 2:06 at the 2019 WAC finals.
He set a personal record (2:00) while taking third at Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV meet.
He was 23rd (2:04) at the Masters Championships.
Vizcaino finished dead last (2:11.22) at the 2018 Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I preliminaries.
“My junior year, I’d just run,” he said. “This year, I was more tactical. I felt more confident.”
Vizcaino plans to continue his running career at either Modesto Junior College or Cuesta College.
“I’m looking forward to college,” he said. “I’ll start from square one again.”