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Ceres High's varsity softball program hasn't had a losing record or missed the playoffs in over two decades.

The Bulldogs plan to uphold their tradition of excellence in 2008.

"We're going to continue the legacy," third-year player Vaneza Hoover said. "I have confidence in the team."

Six players return from last year's squad, which compiled a 15-11-2 record, placed third in the Valley Oak League (8-6) and upset Capital Valley League champion Foothill 4-0 in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Playoffs.

They are seniors Chelsae Lomeli (third base/shortstop) and Tiffany Ornells (outfielder/utility), juniors Vaneza Hoover (pitcher), Amanda Lampley (catcher/infielder) and Shaye Farriester (second base/outfielder), and sophomore Hillary Haley (outfielder/catcher).

Senior Cassie Rayford (first base/designated hitter), juniors Mika Johnson (outfielder/pitcher), Astrid Mazariegos (outfielder/second base) and Karen Villalobos (outfielder/utility), sophomore Jode Johnson (shortstop/catcher) and freshman Ryan Norton (outfielder/utility) are newcomers.

Vaneza will play a major role as she takes over for 2007 Valley Oak League pitcher of the year Kristen Ghimenti, who received a scholarship from Bethany University. Hoover's fastball has been clocked in the low to mid-60s.

"I've known Vaneza for a long time," Bulldogs head coach Donnie Donaldson said. "She throws so hard. She has an excellent dropball and riseball. She has an awesome changeup. She's hard to hit when she's on."

"I feel a lot of pressure," Hoover said. "Everyone is expecting a lot from me this year."

Ceres' projected lineup consists of Farriester, Jode Johnson, Lomeli, Hoover, Haley, Ornells, Rayford, Mika Johnson and Norton.

Hoover and Haley garnered VOL honors last season. Hoover made the first team, while Hillary made the second squad.

"We're a completely overhauled team from last year," Donaldson said. "We have a team with enormous speed. We have some really good hitters. We have an excellent defense. We're well-rounded."

The Johnson sisters should rank among the top in the VOL in steals at season's end. Mika is a left-handed slap hitter. Jode, who bats from the right side, is a complete hitter.

"Once they're on the base, they're deadly," Donaldson said. "They can steal at anytime. I've never had that much speed."

The Bulldogs were dealt a major blow during the preseason when their catcher and second-team, all-VOL catcher fractured a bone in her right hand while blocking one of Hoover's pitches. Lampley will be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

The top three teams in the VOL qualify for the playoffs.

East Union will be the favorite to repeat as champion because it has one of the top pitchers in the state in University of Georgia bound Erin Arevalo.

Ceres, Manteca, Sierra and Oakdale will vie for the final two spots.

Sonora, Weston Ranch and Central Valley will try to play spoiler.

"There's a lot of good teams out there," Donaldson said. "It's going to be really tough. It's not going to be a cakewalk."

Asked if Ceres would secure its 22nd straight postseason berth, Donaldson said: "Without a question. This team is going to be very successful."

The Bulldogs' playoff streak started in 1987. They've won 12 league titles and one section crown during that span.