The Ceres Sizzle 10-and-under travel softball team enjoyed a breakthrough performance at the Hilmar Tournament this past weekend.
Ceres compiled a 4-1 record en route to a second-place finish.
The Sizzle placed last in Newman the previous week.
"They definitely didn't like the taste of losing last week," head coach Audel Valencia said. "They responded really well this weekend. It's a huge lift for us going into the next tournament."
Riverbank edged Ceres 13-11 in the championship game Sunday afternoon.
The Sizzle lost despite collecting nine hits.
Jannet Valencia and Nani Sagapolu both doubled twice.
"It was a roller coaster of a game," Valencia said. "They capitalized on our mistakes. They had a solid defense. We just fell a little short."
Ceres routed Hilmar 15-6 in the semifinals Sunday morning.
The Sizzle's first three victories came against Riverbank (11-4), Newman (11-9) and Hilmar (12-3) on Saturday.
Ceres totaled 60 hits in five games.
"I'm very impressed with what they were able to do with their bats," Valencia said. "The girls have put in the work. We had a grueling week of practice."
Ayla Lacerda, Ceres' No. 2 hitter and a first-year player, batted 9-for-11 from the plate.
"She had a great tournament," Valencia said. "She really stepped up. She was locked in. She applies what we teach her really well."
Ceres and its three opponents competed in triple-digit weather in Hilmar.
"We had a few practices in the week to help get them prepared for that," Valencia said. "They hydrated more and ate better breakfasts. That's one of the most important parts of the game. We provided plenty of water and fruit to keep them going during the tournament. I brought some fans from Home Depot. It kept them nice, cool and refreshed. It was a total team effort."