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ONeal, Bulldog standouts to play in Memorial tourney
Final prep game for longtime teammates
Nicole Bates (pictured right) will team up with four-year Ceres High varsity softball teammates Jessica Arreola (left), Mahlena ONeal, Sabrina Baisdon and Mackenzie Veuve for the final time this Wednesday at Livingston High School. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Mahlena O'Neal, Nicole Bates, Sabrina Baisdon, Mackenzie Veuve and Jessica Arreola will put on Bulldog uniforms for the final time this week.

The 2016 Ceres High grads, along with Bulldog senior-to-be Rayohna Sagapolu will participate in the Second Annual Paul Leonardo Memorial Western Athletic Conference vs. Central California Conference All-Star Softball Game today in Livingston.

"It's one last time for them to have fun together before they go off to college," said Angela Durossette, Ceres High's head coach the past two seasons.

Bates, O'Neal, Veuve and Sagapolu are second-year all-star participants as they led the WAC to a thrilling 7-6 win over the CCC last year.

Nicole was named one of the game's MVPs. She batted 2-for-2 from the plate with one homer, one triple and one walk.

Sagapolu collected three hits and three RBIs. She had a two-run walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning.

O'Neal singled and walked once in two at-bats.

"The ones that played in it last year had a lot of fun," Durossette said. "It's more relaxed. There's no stress. They'll have a good time."

"I'm a very competitive person," Bates said. "I want to win. But I also want to have fun. It will be an exciting game. Last year, it was really close."

The WAC and CCC rosters are made up of players that earned all-conference accolades during the regular season.

O'Neal, Bates, Baisdon, Veuve, Arreola and Sagapolu led Ceres High to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III crown this past spring. The Bulldogs posted a 23-5 overall record and captured their third consecutive WAC championship.

Bates and Co. are looking forward to battling former youth travel softball teammate Madilyn "Bubba" Nickles of Merced this week.

Nickles was recently named Gatorade State Player of the Year.

"We played with Bubba when she was younger," Nicole said. "She's a competitor."