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Softball matchup more than just a game
Dima Ferrel and Sofia Rubio
Ceres High’s softball team had five people throw out first pitches before Thursday’s NFCA StrikeOut Cancer game against Pacheco, including Dima Ferrel and Sofia Rubio. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Last week’s softball matchup between Ceres High and Pacheco was more than a game.

Bulldog and Panther players donned uniforms with pink accent colors while participating in a National Fastpitch Coaches Association StrikeOut Cancer contest on Thursday in Ceres.

Ceres High prevailed by a score of 10-0 in five innings.

“This is the first time we’ve done anything like this here,” said Bulldogs’ head coach Mike Corsaut. “It’s to bring awareness to all different types of cancer. We have multiple players on the team whose moms are cancer survivors.”

Corsaut lost his stepfather Cliff Jorgensen and mother-in-law Lena Oldenberg to cancer.

“It was an emotional day,” he said. “It brought back memories of your family and people that aren’t here anymore.”

Ceres High had five people impacted by cancer throw out first pitches before the contest, including Jennifer Smith, Dima Ferrel, Sofia Rubio, Domingo Zuniga and Caidyn Lee.

Smith lost husband/former CHS football/boys golf coach/Mae Hensley Jr. High administrative assistant to liver cancer at the age of 55 on April 12.

Scotty and Mike were close friends and former colleagues.

“I was hoping to have Scotty throw out the first pitch. That’s why we agreed to it (the Strikeout Cancer game) earlier in the year. It was an honor to have Jennifer there. She just came back to work this week.”

“This man, who I was blessed to call my husband, made an extraordinary impact on everyone he came in contact with throughout his life,” Jennifer Smith wrote in a post on Facebook last week. “He fought his own health battles for most of his life without complaining. He lived every minute as if he were completely healthy not showing what he was dealing with inside his body. He was selfless in serving his family, friends, community, the kids he coached over the years and came in contact with at his job as head of discipline at Mae Hensley Jr. High. He told me it was all worth it if he could help save 1 kid and get them on the right track. He did so much more than that.”

Dima Ferrel, the mother of CHS assistant coach Nikole Ferrel and grandmother of Bulldog player Amaia Pritchett, is battling a rare tissue cancer.

“I’ve known Dima for 28 years,” said Corsaut. “She’s been a huge part in developing and coaching players (through the Ceres Youth Baseball & Softball Organization). She’s been so helpful. The girls love her. It’s awesome to have her around.”

Rubio, 6, was diagnosed with brain cancer in June of 2023.

She suited up for the Ceres Giants’ t-ball team this past season.

“She was excited to be out there. The girls were excited to have her out there. She loves softball so much.”

Zuniga, grandfather of current CHS player Ava Montesdeoca and former Bulldogs Breanne and Rebecca DeLeon, is battling colon cancer.

“He’s come to so many softball games throughout the years."

Caidyn Lee, Pacheco’s second baseman, is a survivor. She battled stage 3 bladder cancer.

“It was fun to honor them," Corsaut noted. "There was a lot of support out there. It was awesome. It can be a bigger thing if we advertise it more. We want to continue to do it yearly.”