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WAC perfection for Lady Dawgs
Ceres High compiles perfect 12-0 record
Head coach Donnie Donaldson gets drenched with water following Ceres Highs 13-0 pounding of crosstown-rival Central Valley. The Bulldogs had an unblemished 12-0 mark in Western Athletic Conference play this year. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

The members of Ceres High's and Central Valley's varsity softball teams exchanged hugs, chatted and posed for pictures following Friday's crosstown meeting.

The Bulldogs improved their all-time record against the Hawks to 16-0 with a 13-0 five-inning mercy-rule victory.

"A lot of these girls have grown up together," Central Valley head coach/former Ceres High standout pitcher Kristen Ghimenti said. "There's no bad blood. We're friendly. At the end of the day, it's just a game."

First-place Ceres High won all 12 of its games en route to completing a perfect run through the Western Athletic Conference season.

"It's awesome to go undefeated with your best friends and getting all the wins for our coaches," Bulldogs sophomore standout hitter/shortstop Nicole Bates said. "We played our game to the best of our ability. We didn't take any team lightly. We have a different mindset this year. We know what we can do."

Central Valley dropped to 5-5 in the league standings.

The Bulldogs, the WAC's top seed for the Division-IV playoffs, have outscored their conference opponents 134-11 this year.

The Hawks are vying for the league's third and final postseason berth. Central Valley has never qualified for the playoffs.

"We need to beat Pacheco and Central Catholic," Ghimenti said. "It would take a miracle. To be in the running for the playoffs is a big deal."

"We made it this far," Bates said. "We might as well win it all. I think we have enough talent to do it this year."

Ceres High batted .559 from the plate (19-for-34) as a team versus Central Valley.

Bates finished 3-for-4 with one homer, one RBI and one run.

Freshman Rayohna Sagapolu finished 2-for-4 with one homer, four RBIs and one run.

Megan McCormick finished 3-for-3 with one double and four RBIs.

Sophomore Kaytlin Donaldson finished 2-for-2 with three runs.

Kinsey Ward finished 1-for-1 with two runs.

Camrynn Broumas finished 2-for-4 with one RBI.

Izabell Saldana finished 1-for-2 with one RBI.

Ali Lowman finished 1-for-1 with one run.

Breanna De Leon finished 1-for-1 with one run.

MacKenzie Veuve finished 1-for-2 with one run.

Mahlena O'Neal finished 2-for-3.

Mikayla Whatley tallied three runs and one steal.

Donaldson tossed a complete-game shutout while starring at pitcher.

Kaytlin allowed one hit and struck out three batters over four innings.

Lowman gave up one hit, fanned one and walked one during her one inning of relief.

The Hawks posted a team batting average of .067 with four strikeouts.

Lindsey Alexander accounted for Central Valley's lone hit.

Hawk pitcher Lexy Cordova surrendered 11 earned runs and 16 hits with one strikeout and two walks in five innings.

Ceres High exploded for four runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

Bulldog players doused head coach Donnie Donaldson with cold water several minutes after the contest concluded.

"It was right out of the ice chest," he said. "That was cold. I'm just enjoying the ride. This is a special group. They love each other. It's going to be hard to duplicate a season like this."

"Ceres High has a talented group of girls," Ghimenti said. "They're always a challenge when we play them. They've won a lot of games by the mercy rule. I wish them the best."

Cordova, Sarah McElroy, Nicholette Mendez and Jasmine Henson, Central Valley's four senior players, were recognized before the start of the game.

"Losing those girls is tough," Ghimenti said. "They're irreplaceable."