TRACY -- Ceres High softball coach Donnie Donaldson has been waiting for a galvanizing event, a signal that his team realizes what's at stake.
He believes that moment arrived Thursday, in the midst of a 10-run inning that led his Bulldogs to an 11-3 blowout over Chowchilla in the NorCal Classic.
"We've played well enough to win games, but we've made mistakes that end up costing us," Donaldson said. "Today, you could see our focus was there, hitting and fielding."
The Bulldogs carried that momentum into their second game of the Classic, upsetting Modesto Metro Conference power Davis 4-2 to advance to today's 9 a.m. semifinal vs. Buhach Colony. Ceres lost its season opener to BC.
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Turlock plays Tracy's West in the other semifinal; the winners meet at 1 p.m. to decide the Golf Bracket title.
Buhach Colony and Alex Molina swept aside Sierra (1-0) and St. Mary's (6-1). Molina had eight strikeouts in the second game and welcomed the surprising run support.
"We lost five seniors off last year's team and our shortstop quit, so we've had some struggles hitting," she said.
These teams have had similar seasons, and both believe a tournament title is just what they need to boost confidence when they get back to league play next week.
"Beating Davis, that's a big win for us," said Donaldson, whose 'Dogs (8-4) have won six of their last seven games. "(Stephanie) Crist throws the ball hard, but we were able to get good swings. This is a big confidence builder for us."
Winning pitcher Kaycee Creek had an RBI triple in the first, then Jessica Ellsworth doubled in a run in the third for a 2-0 lead. Ceres' moment of truth came in the fourth, when Davis (9-4) tied it on Chelsea Foreman's double.
Rather than stress over the score, Creek kept firing balls across the plate and her teammates scored twice in the fifth for the winning margin.
Earlier in the day, Hillary Haley and Jamie Beck -- who got the win against Chowchilla -- each had two-run doubles to spark the 10-run rally.
BC couldn't match a 10-run inning, but Molina wasn't in need of that much support.
"I've been working on spins so I can get more rotation on my pitches," she said. "That can mean the difference between a strikeout and a hit, so it's pretty important that I am able to get better at it."
Today, Creek faces Molina, the same pairing that opened the season.
Turlock earned its way to a semifinal without a hit in its 1-0 win over Patterson, capitalizing on two errors in the seventh. A misplayed fly put a runner on second with two out, but it looked as if the Tigers would overcome the mistake when Jessyca Rico struck out the next batter.
The third strike got past the catcher, forcing a throw to first -- and it sailed into right field to score the run. Rico finished with a no-hitter and 11 strikeouts, but Turlock's Morgan Riddick was equally impressive with 13 strikeouts.
Patterson loaded the bases in the fourth and put two runners on in the sixth, but Riddick overpowered the following hitters to save the win.
"One of our goals here is to get the girls thinking about every situation when they're out there," Turlock coach Jill Ogden said. "Like that third strike. Candace (Sakuda) saw it get past the catcher and she took off. Because she drew a throw, we got the run home."
Turlock faces West today at 9 a.m., after the Wolfpack rallied for a 4-3 win over Hughson. The Huskies lost a 3-2 lead on a two-run homer in the sixth, but had two on and no outs in the seventh.
A strikeout-throwout double play, with the Wolfpack catching the lead runner between second and third, ended Hughson's comeback bid.
The Huskies began by beating CCC leader Los Banos 5-1, getting a two-run single from Shelby Ross and an RBI single from Krista Bava as Alyssa Coelho struck out 12 in Hughson's opener.