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Legion team flourishing
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The Ceres American Legion baseball team opened its season on May 31. The Bulldogs won eight of their first 11 games.

"I'm pleased up to this point," said Ceres coach Tim Williams. "Most of our pitchers have done a pretty good job. Offense and defense have been alright. We're scoring between five and eight runs a game. That's more than enough to win. We've also turned some double plays. That's a good sign."

Added Ceres High senior shortstop/pitcher Luis Malagon: "We're a lot more aggressive now."

Williams is using the summer to evaluate returning and upcoming talent. He lost nine players to graduation, including Hector Reyes, Derrick Goblirsch, Brandon Gresham, Brian Borges, Jake Garrett, Nick Eudy, Conrad Valor, Ben Hurt and Alfredo Delgadillo. Reyes, Goblirsch, Gresham and Borges were starters.

"We have some holes to fill," Williams said.

This year's team features 20 players, including Malagon, Tyler Tresenrider, Jonathan Montez, Jake Loveland, Ray Sewell, Robert Kerr, Mario Navarro, Irving Reyes, Armando Valencia, Jimmy Perales, Ryan Berndt, Ricky Walters, Chad Bennett, Brent Avila, R.J. Perea, Jake Keidel, Derek Watts, Matt Smith, Devin Eudy and Chris Brown. Malagon, Montez, Loveland, Sewell, Kerr, Navarro and Reyes played for the varsity Bulldogs in 2004-05.

"That's almost perfect," Williams said. "A few kids can't make it, you still have enough."

Bennett had a stellar outing during the Bulldogs' 2-1 loss at Modesto Christian on June 8. The junior pitcher allowed just one run in seven innings.

"I think he's going to be good enough to pitch varsity next season," Williams said. "But he has some work to do. Right now, he has to work on his movement and location. I talked to him about developing a two-seam fastball that cuts into hitters."

Ceres schedule includes 23 games. The Bulldogs will be playing in the Downey, Lee Hampson and Ron Vermulen tournaments over the next three weeks. They're guaranteed 12 games, including four at each event.

"We have a lot of work to do, some things to improve on," Williams said. "If they continue to do that, we should be fairly successful." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier