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Chase for softball section title begins Tuesday
Head coach Angela Durossette (pictured left), standout shortstop Nicole Bates and Ceres High's varsity softball team will travel to Sacramento on Tuesday to compete in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs. The third-seeded Bulldogs will face No. 14 American Canyon. The first-round game will get underway at 6 p.m. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

The wait is over.

The Sac-Joaquin Section released its playoff brackets for varsity softball.

Third-seeded Ceres High will face No. 14 American Canyon in the opening round of the Division-III tournament tomorrow night at the Sacramento Softball Complex.

The game will begin at 6.

“This is what we’ve been looking forward to all season,” Bulldogs head coach Angela Durossette said. “The girls are really excited. They’re ready.”

Ceres High enters the postseason with an 18-4 overall record. The Bulldogs won their third straight Western Athletic Conference championship (11-1).

American Canyon (10-13, 6-9) placed fourth in the Solano County Athletic Conference.

“Right now our focus is winning on Tuesday,” Durossette said. “It’s single elimination. The girls want to face Oakdale again. If both of us win our first two games, we’ll play each other on Saturday.”

Ceres High will be led by shortstop Nicole Bates, catcher Mahlena O’Neal and pitcher Callie Nunes.

Bates and O’Neal earned scholarships to Washington and Georgia, respectively.

Nunes made a verbal commitment to Concordia University.

Mackenzie Veuve (Sr.), Sabrina Baisdon (Sr.), Jessica Arreola (Sr.), Adryana Knights (Sr.), Rayohna Sagapolu (Jr.), Natalia Cortez (Jr.), Raimee Mendoza (Jr.), Andrea Duran (So.), Shelby Veuve (So.), Hanna Brown (Fr.) and Branda Villalpando (Fr.) will also contribute.

Brown and Villalpondo were promoted from Ceres High’s junior-varsity team, which posted a 20-2-1 overall record and won the WAC crown (11-1-0).

Bates, O’Neal, Baisdon, Arreola and Mackenzie Veuve have been teammates at the varsity level since the ninth grade. They’ll be competing together for the final time in the playoffs.

“They’ve been the core of the team for the last four years,” Durossette said. “They’ve played together for so long. They know this is it for them.”

Nunes split playing time on the mound with San Jose State commit Sagapolu last season.

Callie has been Ceres High’s main pitcher this year. Rayohna starts at third base.

Nunes posted a 15-2 record with a 0.74 ERA with two no-hitters, eight shutouts, 173 strikeouts and just 19 walks during the regular season.

“If she throws the ball as well as she can, she’s tough to beat,” Durossette said. “She can’t make mistakes against great hitters. We’ve also got to get hits in crucial situations and play defense behind her.”

Ceres High compiled a 2-2 record on its way to a fifth-place finish in the Division-III playoff tournament last spring.

The Bulldogs went 1-2 in 2014 and 2013.

East Union (21-1-0, 13-1-0 Valley Oak League) and Oakdale (19-1-0, 13-1-0 VOL) are seeded first and second, respectively, this year.

Ceres High lost 5-2 and 11-0 to Oakdale in non-conference play.

“We’re in a tough division,” Durossette said. “That doesn’t mean anything. Anybody is beatable on any given day. We have the talent.”

The Bulldogs won their first-and-only section title in 1995. Ceres High placed second in 1989, 1991 and 1993.