By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Sagapolu earns softball scholarship to San Jose State
Rayohna helped lead CHS to D-III section title
A standout on Ceres Highs softball team since the ninth grade, senior Rayohna Sagapolu will continue her athletic career at San Jose State. - photo by DALE BUTLER/Courier file photo

A third member of Ceres High's 2016 Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III championship softball team has earned a scholarship to a NCAA Division-I school.

Senior third baseman/pitcher Rayohna Sagapolu will continue her athletic career at San Jose State.

She attended a signing day party on Saturday at the Tri-County Smash Athletic Facility in Modesto.

"They put an offer on the table and it blew me away," Rayohna said. "I don't really have to worry about anything. It's a huge relief."

Sagapolu visited Cal Poly and San Diego State prior to committing to San Jose State.

"I got recruited (by San Jose State) last year in December," she said. "I went on my official visit in October. The campus is just like the pictures. It's pretty. I was smiling the whole time. My teammates were nice. They have a good coaching staff. Plus, they have my major. I want to go into nursing."

Father John Sagapolu and former high school/current travel ball coach Donnie Donaldson have both played instrumental roles in Rayohna's development as a player.

Rayohna contributed off the bench as a member of John's rec softball team.

"My dad's like my personal manager," Rayohna said. "Listening to him helped me. As he was learning, I was learning."

Sagapolu played for Donaldson her sophomore and freshman years at Ceres High.

Rayohna was a member of Donne's Tri-County Smash 18s team this past season.

"That (Donnie's facility) was my home every single day," she said. "I always wanted to work. I wanted that scholarship."

Sagapolu wasn't always a standout softball player.

Rayohna was a dancer before suiting up for the Ceres Sizzle, California Grapettes and Tri-County Smash.

"I used to be a ballerina," she said. "I didn't like it. I would cry and complain. My favorite part about softball is being able to go out there and forget about everything. When you step on the field, it's you and your equipment. Softball is my main sport. I try to work out two to three times a week during the offseason."

Sagapolu helped lead Ceres High to its second Sac-Joaquin Section title in program history this past spring. The Bulldogs posted a 23-5 overall record and captured their third consecutive WAC championship (11-1). Ceres outscored its conference opponents, 140-6.

Rayohna earned first-team all-conference accolades her junior year.

She ranked first in the WAC in doubles (7), third in homers (2), RBIs (16) and on-base percentage (.562), fifth in runs (16) and slugging percentage (.809), and sixth in batting average (.500) and stolen bases (3).

"We seemed unstoppable," Sagapolu said. "We competed against each other in a friendly way. We made each other better. We had fun together."

Sagapolu will try to help lead the Bulldogs to their fourth straight conference title and sixth consecutive playoff berth in 2017.

Ceres High lost six starters from last year's team, including Nicole Bates, Mahlena O'Neal, Mackenzie Veuve, Sabrina Baisdon, Jessica Arreola and Adryana Knights.

"I don't want to lower our expectations," Sagapolu said. "We want to win league. That's possible."

Sagapolu follows in the footsteps of Bates (Washington) and O'Neal (Georgia) by earning a scholarship to a Division-I college.

"We all played rec ball together," Sagapolu said. "They were crazy good from a young age. Watching us grow and go to Division-I schools is unbelievable. All of us love the sport. We all started at CYB. They taught us the basics. Because of that, we went on to better opportunities."

Sagapolu fulfilled a life-long athletic dream.

"I really didn't expect all of this to happen," Sagapolu said. "I don't think it's hit me yet. I'm the first one on my mom's side of the family to go to college. Because of my parents, it's always been an expectation for me."

Sagapolu will battle for playing time at third base and pitcher during her freshman year with the Spartans. San Jose State finished 28-24 overall and second in the Mountain West standings (17-7) this past season.

"I'm not redshirting," she said. "I'm playing right away."