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Williams pleased with team's performance
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The Ceres High American Legion baseball team ended its summer campaign by winning two of four games at the 15th annual Ron Vermeulen Classic last week in Ceres.

"We didn't swing the bats exceptionally well," said Ceres coach Tim Williams. "Our defense was solid."

On Friday, the Bulldogs edged Modesto High 5-4 and lost 14-2 to Valley Christian. On Thursday, Ceres routed Christian Brothers 12-1 and fell 13-1 to Franklin of Elk Grove.

The Bulldogs posted a 12-11 overall record.

Coach Williams used the month-long summer season to instruct and evaluate players that plan to tryout for the 2006 varsity high school team. The Bulldogs have numerous holes to fill as they lost a host of players to graduation.

"At times, we hit the ball really well," Williams said. "We put the ball in play and scored some runs. I wasn't exceptionally pleased with our pitching."

Junior southpaw Jonathan Montez will be the front-runner for the No. 1 spot in Ceres' rotation. His last two starts were impressive. He pitched a no-hitter against Central Catholic and allowed just three hits in a win over Christian Brothers.

"He threw all of his pitches for strikes this summer," Williams said. "He also gained some miles per hour on his fastball."

Luis Malagon, Chad Bennett, Ricky Walters, Armando Valencia and Irving Reyes will vie for the No. 2 spot in pitching the rotation.

"They all have an equal shot at earning that spot," Williams said. "It just depends on who wants to do the work during the offseason."

Infield defense will be a team strength next year.

"We have four or five guys that are very interchangeable," Williams said. "That's going to be a luxury we haven't had the last couple of years."

Malagon (shortstop/second base), Valencia (2B/SS/3B), Jimmy Perales (2B/SS/3B), Tyler Tresenrider (3B/1B) and R.J. Perea (3B/2B) make up the Bulldogs' infield.

"Whoever's hitting the ball is going to play in those spots," Williams said.

Ceres' first preseason game will be played in eight months.

"We definitely have a lot of things to work on," Williams said. "There's a lot of time between now and February." -- By DALE BUTLER Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier