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Mixed results for Ceres Sizzle softball travel teams
Ceres sizzle July 13 2022
The Ceres Sizzle 8-and-under travel softball team placed second at its home tournament this past week. The Sizzle 8s and 16s are coached by Audel Valenica and his wife Claire.

The Valencias, Audel and Claire, are coaching a pair of Ceres Sizzle travel softball teams together this summer.

“It didn’t take much to convince us,” Audel said. “Me and my wife love coaching the girls and kids in general. We even play softball ourselves. It’s pretty tiring.”

“Some married couples have date night,” he added. “We have softball night.”

The Sizzle 8-and-under team opened the 2022 season this past week in Ceres.

“We wanted to see how it would be to build a team from the ground up,” Audel Valencia said.

Ceres amassed a 3-2 record en route to a second-place finish at its home tournament, staged July 8-10, at the George Costa Ball Field Complex.

“It was our first tournament,” Audel Valencia said. “We definitely wanted to win it being the hosts. The girls learned a lot. They’re ahead of schedule.”

The top-seeded Sizzle lost 32-22 to second-seeded Hilmar in the championship game on Sunday.

The two teams scored a combined 54 runs.

The game produced a winner after two extra innings.

“It was insane,” Audel Valencia said. “We played well enough to win. The girls got tired at the end. It was tough to keep getting them back out there. It was a hot day. But they were motivated. We came up short. Hilmar kept hitting the ball well and capitalized on our mistakes.”

Ceres compiled a 1-2 record against Hilmar at the tournament.

The Sizzle won the second meeting, 16-6, on Sunday.

Hilmar topped Ceres 10-7 on Saturday.

The Sizzle beat Newman twice (16-15, 21-12) on Friday.

Ceres will play in the Newman All-Star Softball Tournament this weekend.

The Sizzle 16-and-under team took third at the NSA Northern State Championship.

The eight-team tournament was played, July 2-3, at Turlock’s Pedretti Park.

“Every weekend, they compete,” Audel Valencia said. “That’s all we really want. We just have to put in more work.”

Ceres amassed a 3-2 record.

Top-seeded/eventual-champion OC Knights-Bray edged the fourth-seeded Sizzle 6-5 in the semifinals on July 3.

“We had them,” Audel Valencia said.

Ceres led 5-4 heading into the final inning.

“The girls were excited,” said Audel Valencia, whose team lost by 11 runs to OC Knights-Bray earlier in the tournament. “They were confident they were going to win. Sometimes things don’t fall your way. A couple hits here and there and it changes the game. They played so well. They competed at a higher level. They made way less mistakes.”

Ceres secured a 5-1 victory against fifth-seeded Mavericks-Garcia in the quarterfinals on July 3.

The Sizzle were awarded the fourth seed after winning two of three games in pool play.

Ceres bested the Central Valley Cougars 9-1 and Mavericks-Garcia 11-2 on July 2.

The Sizzle lost 13-2 to OC Knights-Bray on July 2.

“They’re a really, good team,” Audel Valencia said.


The Ceres Sizzle 14-and-under travel softball team reached the semifinals of a tournament for the second week in a row.

The Sizzle placed in the top four while competing in the 16-and-under bracket of the 1st Annual Rylee Munsel Memorial Tournament, staged July 9-10, in Sonora.

“The girls are bummed,” head coach Nikole Ferrel said. “Obviously, we wanted to make it to the championship game.”

The Sizzle compiled a 3-2 record.

Sixth-seeded Ceres lost 4-1 to the second-seeded/eventual-champion Nor Cal Assassins in the semifinals on Sunday at Standard Park. 

The Assassins topped the fourth-seeded Easton Bullets Taft 6-2 in the championship game.

Ceres defeated the third-seeded CA Valley Firecrackers 7-0 in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

The Sizzle fell one win shy of advancing to the finals of the 14-and-under NSA Northern State Championship earlier this month in Modesto.

The 10-team tournament was played, July 2-3, at Rainbow Fields.

The Sizzle won three of four games while placing in the top four in the Gold Bracket of the NSA Northern State Championship.

Third-seeded Valley Rage ended the second-seeded Sizzle’s tournament run with a 5-4 victory in the semifinals on July 3.

Valley Rage erased a 3-1 deficit in the final inning to secure the revenge win.

“It could have gone either way,” Ferrel said. “We had the lead. The other team did their job when they needed to. We didn’t. We needed timely hitting and it just didn’t happen. They’re a really, good hitting team. I don’t want to admit that but that’s the truth.”

Valley Rage lost 7-4 to top-seeded Fresno Force-Eniquez in the finals.

The Sizzle earned the tourney’s second seed after topping all three of their opponents in pool play on July 2.

Ceres defeated Valley Rage (8-7), Top 9 Sports-Temoche (3-2) and Cen Cal Hellcats (17-2).


The Sierra De Leon-led Ceres Sizzle 12-and-under travel softball team reached the semifinals of the NSA Northern California State Championship.

The second-seeded Fresno Force eliminated the third-seeded Sizzle from the 12-team tournament with a 4-1 win on July 3.

The Sizzle shut out the sixth-seeded Cen Cal Khaos 8-0 in the quarterfinals on July 3.

Ceres posted a perfect 3-0 record in pool play.

The Sizzle notched wins versus Sanger Warriors-Penalo (6-4), Suncats Select (8-6) and Bases Academy-Fonsec (13-1) on July 2.