Dima Ferrel and her coaching staff had high expectations for the Ceres Sizzle 16-and-under travel softball squad heading into the Gold Rush Mountain Blast Tournament.
"We thought we were the best team out there," she said.
Seeded third after a disappointing 1-2 showing in pool play on Saturday, Ceres rebounded with back-to-back wins in the Championship Bracket to capture the title.
The Sizzle received contributions from 11 players, including Valaree Gonzalez, Shania Cisneros, Rachel Arrouvet, Kelly Soto, Mercedes Concepcion, Yescenia Godinez, Ariel Knights, Adryana Knights, Bryana Lopez, Marissa Magallanez and Anita Martinez.
"It's a great feeling," Ferrel said. "We knew they could do it. We're so proud of them. I'm very impressed with the dedication I've gotten."
The Sizzle pulled away for a 7-3 win over Miss Behavin of Riverbank/Oakdale in the finals on Sunday.
Tied at one-all, Ceres scored six runs in the fifth inning.
"All 10 girls batted that inning," Ferrel said.
Concepcion got things started with a leadoff homer. Ceres' dugout was silent prior to Mercedes' fence-clearing highlight.
"It perked the girls up," Ferrel said.
Arrouvet homered in the third inning.
Ceres committed no errors during the championship game.
The Sizzle routed top-seeded GJSA of Pleasanton 14-3 in the semifinals earlier in the day.
Ceres dropped two of three games on Saturday.
The Sizzle posted an 8-6 win over Miss Behavin.
Ceres lost 13-6 to GJSA and 6-5 to Sierra Gold Rush.
The Sizzle, 6-6 on the year, placed second at the Summer Splash Tournament at Rainbow Fields in June.
Ceres will play in the Jungle Safari Tournament at Rainbow Fields this weekend.
12 & under
The Ceres Sizzle 12-and-under travel softball team compiled a perfect 5-0 record en route to a first-place finish at its home tournament on July 14.
Ceres extended its unbeaten streak to eight games before losing at Standard Park last week in Sonora.
The Sizzle won three of four games for third-place honors at the 12-team Gold Rush Mountain Blast Tournament.
"There were a lot of great teams out there," head coach Vince Carvajal said. "We were hoping to get first or second. We didn't win any hardware. We played pretty good. It was a tough tournament."
Ceres lost 6-1 to the Hayward Extreme in the semifinals on Sunday.
Players from both teams were having trouble breathing because of the altitude and hot weather according to Carvajal.
"We both played a great game," he said. "They just played a little better."
The Sizzle allowed just six runs while sweeping all three of their opponents on Saturday.
Ceres defeated the Escalon Misfits 5-1, Mayhem Fastpitch 7-3 and Sierra Gold Rush 4-2.
"We took first in Ceres and carried it into Saturday," coach Carvajal said. "We earned the top seed. That's hard to get. Sierra was favored to win the whole thing. They've been beating us for years."
Samantha Carvajal, Hanna Brown and Samantha Woods had seven, six and four strikeouts, respectively, against the Gold Rush, Misfits and Mayhem.
"They did awesome," Vince Carvajal said. "We played great defense behind them."
Outfielder/first-year travel ball participant Carli Gomes was named Ceres' top defensive player. She robbed a Mayhem player of a homer.
"It looked like the ball was going to go over the left-field fence," coach Carvajal said.
Second baseman Hailey Petero turned two double plays for the Sizzle (12-5).
"Our girls are exciting to watch," coach Carvajal said. "We have a lot of fun."
10 & under
Coach Claudia Mendoza focused on the impressive feat instead of the disappointment.
Winners of 19 straight games and three tournaments, the Ceres Sizzle 10-and-under travel softball team experienced a first this past weekend in Sonora.
Ceres placed second with a 4-1 record at the 10-team Gold Rush Mountain Blast Tournament.
"They're an extraordinary group of girls," she said. "I'm very proud of them."
The top-seeded Sizzle lost 9-0 to the Hollister Black Jacks in the finals of the Gold Championship Bracket on Sunday at Standard Park.
Ceres collected just three hits.
"We made some errors and didn't put the bat on the ball," Mendoza said. "That was the toughest pitching we've seen all year long."
Ceres edged the Tracy Titans by international tiebreaker, 8-7, during Sunday's semifinal matchup.
Rebecca DeLeon scored the winning run when Shay Murphy laced a bases-loaded hit up the middle.
Ceres overcame deficits in posting victories over the California Magic (6-3), California Stampede (5-4) and Valley Magic (8-6) in pool play on Saturday to lock up the No. 1 seed.
"We had some jitter bugs and worked through it," Mendoza said. "We didn't give up. That's what I'm most proud of. We win and lose together."
The Sizzle will play in the Jungle Safari Tournament at Rainbow Fields this weekend. Ceres will try to claim its fourth title of the summer.
The Sizzle finished first in Ceres, Newman and Riverbank.
"Our girls play with lots of heart," Mendoza said. "They have great attitudes. I think they'll respond in a big way. We need to keep playing together and working hard."