Merced’s Jewels Perez
Merced High junior Jewels Perez is undefeated at the Paul Leonardo Memorial All-Star Game. The Bears infielder is 5-0 the past three years with the Central California Conference All-Stars.
Perez helped the CCC defeat the West Sierra League 7-1 and then the Western Athletic Conference 4-1 on Tuesday at the Livingston Softball Complex.
The five-game winning streak is not even close to the 50-game winning streak she enjoyed with the CenCal Angels when she was 10 years old.
The CenCal Angels was the first travel softball team Perez played on and the fifth annual Paul Leonardo Memorial All-Star Game on Tuesday was like a CenCal reunion.
Perez was joined on the CCC All-Stars by five of her former CenCal teammates in Golden Valley’s Vanessa Saltos, Marissa Bertuccio and Maddie Martinez, Merced’s Katlyn Arceo and Atwater’s Lexxus Ponce.
“It was cool,” Perez said. ‘We played together on the CenCal Angels. We’ve gone our separate ways, but it’s nice to see everyone has gone on to play in high school.
“That was my first travel ball team. I was small and didn’t play much. Marissa was the stud on that team, too.”
The former teammates reminisced about their first travel ball experiences when they got together in the dugout.
“We were pretty good,” Martinez said. “Marissa pitched a lot of our games. We had a 50-game winning streak. We had a lot of fun and our parents made it a lot of fun.”
Many of the former CenCal Angels excelled during Tuesday’s all-star tournament.
Bertuccio, who was the CCC MVP during the spring after leading Golden Valley to its first CCC championship since 2005, was named the Most Outstanding Player.
The Sacramento State-bound senior pitched seven innings in the two games, giving up just one run. She also had two hits and drove in two runs.
Martinez was named the Offensive Player of the Tournament after going 3 for 4 in the two games combined with three runs batted in.
Perez was named the Defensive Player of the Tournament for her stellar play at shortstop.
Atwater ace Megan Escobar was named the CCC’s Outstanding Player after sharing the pitching duties with Bertuccio. Escobar also pitched seven innings and surrendered just one run in the two games.
The other top awards were given to Ceres’ Megan Yorba (Outstanding Pitcher) and Ceres’ Rebecca Deleon (WAC Outstanding Player), Livingston’s Amelie Valdez (Southern League Outstanding Player) and Dos Palos’ Janessa Jasso (WSL Outstanding Player).
All eight award winners will receive a $500 scholarship from the Paul Leaonardo Memorial Scholarship Foundation.
“It was so fun playing with everyone,” Perez said. “I was kind of nervous because I’m using to playing against them when we’re all enemies. But playing with everyone was fun.”