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College-bound combo

BEAR RIVER HIGH SOFTBALL: After leading Bruins to 3 straight section crowns, Ceo and Mathis are headed for Division I schools
By: Todd Mordhorst, Journal Sports Editor
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LAKE OF THE PINES — There were yellow-and-green University of Oregon visors littering one side of a crowded Bear River High classroom Friday afternoon. On the other side of the room, black-and-red San Diego State gear was the fashion. In the middle, Duane Zauner beamed proudly as he saw his two most celebrated softball players officially commit to their respective colleges. Shortstop Courtney Ceo signed her national letter of intent to accept a scholarship from Oregon, following through on a verbal commitment she made as a sophomore. Second baseman Katie Mathis inked her deal with San Diego State, following her older sister to the NCAA Division I ranks. “Today is just about making it official,” Ceo said. “There are no doubts anymore. We really get to play in college.” The festive signing party was the latest and greatest for a program that has sent several players to college programs over the last several years. It’s no coincidence the Bruins have won an unprecedented three straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championships. Bear River athletic director Duwaine Ganskie said it was the first time two players from the same Bear River team had signed with Division I schools. Ceo also became the first Bruin to land a scholarship from a Pac-10 Conference school. Ceo, the third of four softball-playing sisters, batted .578 last season with 47 runs scored and 14 extra-base hits. “They’re proud,” Ceo said of her family. “Today I’m taking the next step and it’s a big moment for all of us.” Mathis’ older sister Michelle was a big part of Katie’s success on the diamond. “She would go to tee-ball practice and come home and teach me everything she learned,” Mathis said. “She influenced me a lot. She still comes to a lot of my games.” Mathis isn’t an intimidating figure at 5-foot-4. But her fundamentals with the glove and with the bat are impeccable. She batted .410 with 32 RBIs in the No. 2 spot in the batting order last season. Zauner said he’s probably got the best middle infield in Northern California. It would be tough to argue. In their three years at Bear River the team is 84-11. In the section, only Division I power Sheldon has more wins since 2006. Ceo said the two standouts considered playing college ball together, but the opportunity didn’t materialize. “We played on different ASA (American Softball Association) teams and that’s where you get recruited so we ended up going separate ways,” Mathis said. While their families are already decked out in their respective college gear, they won’t be putting away the crimson-and-gray Bruin hats and shirts just yet. Mathis and Ceo will anchor the 2010 Bear River squad, seeking to go 4-for-4 in the section title department. “I’m so blessed to be on this team and have all these girls come together and be a part of it,” Mathis said. “We’ve got one more year and we want to get that fourth one.”