A year removed from being named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year, Ceres High varsity baseball player Brad Bussard received the highest honor when he was voted the league's Most Valuable Player during the year-end coaches' meeting last month in Livingston.
"It's a huge accomplishment," said Bussard, a four-year starter with the Bulldogs. "I put a lot of work into this sport."
"He did everything for us," said John Bussard, Brad's head coach and father.
John Bussard was named WAC Coach of the Year for the second time (2015, 2013) in three years.
Ceres High won its second straight WAC championship (11-1) under coach Bussard's guidance.
"It's a credit to my players and the coaching staff I got," John Bussard said. "You're only as good as the pieces around you."
Brad Bussard and fellow seniors Drew Stahl, Izaiah Hernandez, Merrik Price and Brett Conway led the way.
Stahl, Hernandez, Price and Conway were all selected to the WAC First Team.
Brad, Ceres High's No. 3 hitter, ranked first in the WAC in triples (3), doubles (4), RBIs (19), runs (15), stolen bases (10) and slugging percentage (.700), third in fielding percentage (.953), fifth in batting average (.450) and ninth in on-base percentage (.457).
"He was an absolute, complete ball player for us," John Bussard said. "He never went through a long stretch without producing big for us. I don't think people realize the amount of work he put in."
A standout pitcher, Brad ranked second in league play in wins (5-0) and complete games (3), and third in ERA (1.18) and strikeouts (34). Just six of the 12 runs Bussard allowed were earned.
"Pitching-wise I stayed the same," Brad said. "I had another good season. I became a lot more confident at the plate."
Stahl was named WAC Pitcher of the Year.
The senior transfer from Beyer ranked first in conference in wins (6-0), complete games (4) and strikeouts (53), and second in ERA (0.36).
Drew allowed seven runs, two earned.
Stahl also starred on offense.
Drew led the WAC in batting average (.515) and homers (1), and ranked second in doubles (three), slugging percentage (.696) and on-base percentage (.590), and sixth in RBIs (8) and stolen bases (3).
"He's a guy that wanted the ball," John Bussard said. "Obviously, he throws hard. He's got a funky delivery. He has a very effective slider. He's very resilient. The big thing about him is he has a lot of room to improve."
Brad and Drew had a combined pitching record of 11-0 with seven complete games in WAC play.
"Every time they stepped on the mound, we knew we had a very good chance to win," coach Bussard said.
Stahl played one season of varsity baseball at Beyer prior to transferring to Ceres High.
"From the minute Drew walked on campus, he fit in with the baseball players like he'd been here the whole time," John Bussard said. "I've never seen anything like that before."
Brett earned first-team, all-league honors for the third year in a row.
Conway started at catcher for four seasons.
Brett batted .316 this year with one triple, one double, 17 RBIs, six runs and one stolen base. He ranked first in the WAC in fielding percentage (.990). Conway committed just one error.
"He's the best defensive catcher around," Bussard said. "Offensively, he's a tremendous RBI guy."
Hernandez (Sr., LF) batted .351 with one homer, three doubles, four RBIs, 12 runs and two stolen bases.
Izaiah batted leadoff for the Bulldogs.
He got hit by a pitch 18 times.
"He set the tone," coach Bussard said. "He was a ball magnet. He's a very intimidating ball player."
Price (Sr. 2B) batted .375 with one double, six RBIs and 13 runs. "He really came around offensively this year in league," John Bussard said. "He did a very good job for us."