East Union softball
Even with a scholarship in hand from the University of Georgia, Arevalo hasn't shown any indication that she might ease up during her final softball season at East Union.
The powerful right-hander struck out 82 batters in 38 innings while allowing one earned run to lead EU to a 3-2 record last week. She had a no-hitter against St. Francis, yet EU lost 1-0, and 26 strikeouts in a 12-inning, 1-0 win over Casa Roble.
Arevalo led EU to the Sac-Joaquin Section final last year, where it fell to Bear River. The goal is to win it this season.
"(We want) to keep improving and defend the Valley Oak League title," coach Brian Goulart said. "Then we'll set our eyes on playing well and winning the section tournament. We still have that horrible pit in our stomachs from our weak championship effort last year that will only go away if we win the title this season."
Coffee was a mainstay last year in Oakdale High's drive to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship, playing center field and batting leadoff for a team loaded with pitching and hitting.
The Mustangs have rebuilt their pitching staff -- Justin Jones had 12 Ks in last week's win over Lincoln -- and Coffee is making sure the runs keep coming. He went 4-for-9 with a double, home run and six RBIs as Oakdale went 3-0 to win the Pedretti Tournament.
"We lost some seniors from last year. but we have some good young talent," said coach Hondo Arpoika, pointing to pitchers Nick VanderTuig and Justin Boyd. "Kevin gets a great read on the ball in the outfield and he gets the ball back in quickly.
"He's hitting the ball deeper this season, but he's still the guy we count on to get on base and get us going. We're looking forward to the opportunity to repeat."
The key to success in the Western Athletic Conference, which provided both finalists in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V final a year ago, is quality pitching. That's why Hilmar has hopes of fighting for a playoff berth and a conference title.
Ramos struck out 47 batters without allowing an earned run in 24 innings last week. She gave up six hits and six walks and was named MVP of the Hilmar Tournament after beating Turlock Christian (8-1) and Elliot Christian (6-0).
"(Courtney) has a combination of many pitches, but her strength is her speed," said coach Paul Willis, noting Ramos also batted .462 with a homer and seven runs scored last week. "She is able to hit her spots and batters have had a problem catching up to her.
"We are a young team with mostly juniors and sophomores," Willis said. "With Courtney, we have a chance to compete against every team in our league."
Any question coach Greg Largent had about the ability of his pitching ace to overcome adversity was answered in the second inning of last week's 3-2 upset of Modesto Metro Conference contender Davis.
"A perfect example of his maturity occurred in the second inning, when we committed four errors in the inning and were in a bases-loaded mess," Largent said. "Jimmy struck out the leadoff batter and got a great diving play from our third baseman to get out of the inning. Two years ago, or even last year, Jimmy would have crumbled or melted mentally in that situation."
Zepeda gave up one hit and one walk, and struck out eight, in the complete-game win over Davis. He is 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 18 innings.
"Jimmy has very high expectations not only for himself but for the team," Largent said. "As an all-Trans Valley League pitcher, he will see every team's 'A' game."