Sun-Star honors top high school female athletes for softball, track and swimming.

Sun-Star Honors Spring Female Athletes of the Year

The Merced Sun-Star announces the athletes of the year for softball, track and swimming. Not only did all three athletes have great individual seasons, but all three helped lead their teams to Central California Conference championships.
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The Merced Sun-Star announces the athletes of the year for softball, track and swimming. Not only did all three athletes have great individual seasons, but all three helped lead their teams to Central California Conference championships.

Marissa Bertuccio has accomplished a lot during her four years playing softball at Golden Valley High.

During her junior year, she helped end a 12-year playoff drought. This past season, Bertuccio helped lead GV to its first Central California Conference championship since 2005 and they reached the Sac-Joaquin Section championship game for the first time in the program’s history.

Along the way, Betuccio was named the CCC Most Valuable Player.

Even with everything she’s accomplished on the field, what she’ll remember most are her friends.

“I’ll remember all my teammates,” Bertuccio said. “I’ll miss all of them, especially this year’s team. I’m proud of all the records I broke and the impact I had at the school, but I’ll remember my friends, coaches and all the memories we made the most.”

For the second consecutive year, Bertuccio is the Merced Sun-Star Softball Player of the Year.

Bertuccio ended her career at Golden Valley in grand fashion, leading the team to a CCC championship and reaching the section finals. The Cougars ace led the state with 28 wins and finished second in the state in strikeouts with 308.

Golden Valley’s Marissa Bertuccio (left) celebrates after scoring a run with teammate Kylie Diaz during the first inning of the Cougars’ 3-2 win over Del Campo in the playoffs on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Shawn Jansen

Bertuccio finished with a 28-5 record with a 0.62 ERA. She threw three no-hitters and one perfect game. She also finished with a .548 batting average to go along with seven home runs, 44 runs scored and 36 RBIs.

The team’s success meant more than any of the individual accolades for Bertuccio.

“Our season was pretty incredible,” she said. “We did pretty well my junior year so I didn’t know if we could top it. I can’t describe how amazing my senior year was. I grew up playing with some of my teammates like Maddie (Martinez) and Vanessa (Saltos), so it was fun to do it with them.”

Golden Valley coach Ross Cruickshanks says Bertuccio’s success is a product of hard work.

“She pitches every day, maybe she takes one day off here and there,” said Cruickshanks, who was also named the Sun-Star Coach of the Year. “Her work ethic is unmatched. She’s a perfectionist which can help and hurt her at times. The last few years, she’s dealt with it so much better. She trusts her teammates.

“She’s also a high character person. She’s a great student. She’s a great leader for the girls. I can just go on and on about her.”

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Golden Valley’s Angelena Williams poses for a portrait in Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Williams is the Merced Sun-Star’s Girls Track Athlete of the Year. Andrew Kuhn


Angelena Williams, Golden Valley

Angelena Williams doesn’t have much experience in the triple jump. However, when asked, the Golden Valley senior will compete to help her team earn points in Central California Conference meets.

It just so happens Williams is the top triple jumper in the CCC, winning the event at the CCC’s third center meet and CCC championships at the end of the regular season.

The triple jump was one of four individuals events Williams won at the CCC championships. She also won titles in the long jump, 100-meter hurdles and 300 hurdles.

For the second consecutive season, Williams is the Merced Sun-Star Female Track Athlete of the Year.

“The thing I’m most happy about this past season was winning CCC,” Williams said. “It’s been 10 years since (Golden Valley) has done that.”

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Golden Valley High senior Angelena Williams competes in the 100-meter hurdles. Williams finished third to qualify for next week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet at UC Davis. Shawn Jansen Merced Sun-Star

The girls CCC championship came down to the wire with the Cougars clinching the title in the 4x400 relay in the CCC’s third center meet.

“I felt so ecstatic when we won,” Williams said. “I couldn’t believe it at the time. It makes me so proud we were able to do that.”

Williams holds Golden Valley records in the 100-meter dash, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles and she was part of the 4x100 relay team that set a record this past spring on their way to becoming Sac-Joaquin Section champions for a second straight year.

Next year she’ll begin her collegiate career at Southeast Missouri State.

“I’m very excited,” said Williams, who is originally from Illinois.. “Especially because I’ll be in Missouri. I’ll be facing a lot different competition. Surprisingly, I’ll be competing against a lot of people I ran against in middle school.”

Merced High sophomore Emily Trejo poses for a photo at the Merced High pool on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Trejo is the 2019 Merced Sun-Star Girls Swimmer of the Year. Shawn Jansen


Emily Trejo, Merced

Merced High sophomore Emily Trejo swam just about every event at one point this season for the Bears. Whatever she was asked to do, she did.

Trejo swam the 200 yard individual medley, 100 breaststroke, she swam the sprints, the mid-distance freestyles and the distance events.

“Her versatility was huge,” said Merced coach Kit Grattan. “She has the ability to do all the events. She might have swam everything but the backstroke for us only because we didn’t need her to swim backstroke because we have Sophia Hart and Madeline Hall. She’s willing to do everything.”

Trejo won two individual titles at the CCC Championships with victories in the 100 breaststroke (1 minute, 8.77 seconds) and the 100 freestyle (56.63) to help the Bears clinch the CCC team championship.

Merced High sophomore Emily Trejo is the Merced Sun-Star Swimmer of the Year after winning two individual Central California Conference championships and helping lead the Bears to a CCC team title. Shawn Jansen

Trejo is the Merced Sun-Star Female Swimmer of the Year.

“As a team, all of us did amazing,” Trejo said. “It was a great season for all of us. We all wanted to win so bad.”

Trejo said she had no problem swimming events the team needed her to swim.

“I have my favorites like the 100 breast,” Trejo said. “Not all of them are my best, but I practiced as hard as I could.”

Despite racing in the pool since she was little, Trejo still gets nervous before every race.

“She’s a workhorse,” said Grattan, who was also named the Sun-Star Coach of the Year. “She’s the fastest girl in practice every single day. She’s a great athlete. She’s a competitor. That’s the part that makes me super nervous. She gets super nervous before races.”

Trejo says she’s so worried about swimming a fast time she gets in her own head before races.

“I’m always worried I’m not going to swim as good as I think I’ll do,” Trejo said. “Sometimes I’ll sit on the floor behind the blocks four or five events before my race. I’m just thinking about my race.”

Most of the time, those nerves went away as Trejo claimed another victory.

Female Spring All-Area Honorees


Megan Escobar, Atwater

Janessa Jasso, Dos Palos

Jana Pope, Chowchilla

Jewels Perez, Merced

Kendall Flatt, Atwater

Alexis Aguallo, Le Grand

Vanessa Saltos, Golden Valley

Naomi Moore, Golden Valley

Emma Eastman, Stone Ridge Christian

Kelsey Volkmar, Chowchilla

Marley Gonzalez, Atwater

Hannah Nelson, Stone Ridge Christian

Kiya Smith, Mariposa

Katie Aragona, Los Banos

Yosselin Castillo, Pacheco

Coach: Ross Cruickshanks, Golden Valley

Girls Track

Amelia Smith, Los Banos

Alizabeth Huerta, Livingston

Nylah Hassaan, El Capitan

Morgan Johnson, Buhach Colony

Clara Harman, Atwater

Sara Pust, Golden Valley

Breanna Espinoza, Livingston

Natalie Griffin, Atwater

Keionnie Clemons, Golden Valley

Anaya Shelton, El Capitan

Quinn Hagerman, Merced

Eliza Barocio, Atwater

Kaitlynn Perez, Merced

Coach: Jacqueline Wooding, Golden Valley

Girls Swimming

Kendall Thomas, El Capitan

Sophia Hart, Merced

Gabby Perez, Buhach Colony

Katarina Capulong, Merced

Paige Roseman, Pacheco

Emma Johnston, Buhach Colony

Madeline Hall, Merced

Kayla Ybarra, El Capitan

Alexis Smith, El Capitan

Coach: Kit Grattan, Merced