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DeJesus, area all stars shine in South squads 16-7 rout
Cherie DeJesus (27) is mobbed by teammates after hitting a monstrous first-inning homerun in the 20th Annual High School Softball All Star Classic Friday in Stockton.
STOCKTON – Cherie DeJesus wasted little time making an impact in the 20th Annual High School All-Star Softball Classic, driving a pitch over the leftfield fence for an instant 2-0 lead and establishing the inside track to the game’s Most Valuable Player honors in the South’s 16-7 win over the North Friday at the University of the Pacific’s Softball Complex.

DeJesus, a recent East Union High graduate, helped get an extremely talented South group going, as the squad opened up a four-run lead early and never looked back. The homerun came in the bottom of the first as DeJesus battled with two strikes before crushing a Tori Shepard (Lodi High) pitch to deep left.

“It really felt amazing,” DeJesus said of the homerun. “Especially with all of these people here. I wanted to try and do something big so I was just super focused and super excited.

“It was nice to be back out here with all of the girls.”

DeJesus’ bomb spotted an already focused South starter, Gabby Hawkins, with a little comfort zone and she responded with two innings of scoreless softball, striking out four and working out of a bases loaded jam to keep the North off the scoreboard.

“I was having fun and I came out here with the attitude that I was just going to play  hard and show my stuff,” Hawkins said. “This was going to be my last time competing in softball in high school, so I really wanted to make sure that I had a lot of fun and handled my business.”

Hawkins did that, finishing as a runner-up to DeJesus in the MVP voting, and going 1 for 1 in a couple of plate appearances with a double and a walk.

East Union standout Kourtni McCall also made solid contributions, driving in a pair with a double and coming around to score a run as well. Teammate Jackie Ketner was also a solid contributor, coming on for two innings of work in relief in the South’s victory.

The North squad saw Ripon High graduate Briana Hardesty finish the game 0 for 2, but she was able to reach base on an error only to be stranded after advancing to third base. Manteca High graduate Melissa Bond was 0 for 1 going into her final at bat and then she unleashed on a towering blast to left, just missing a homerun as the ball struck the center of the leftfield fence.

“Off the bat, I really thought that it was gone,” recently retired Manteca head coach Todd Hardcastle said. “I was just hoping and praying that it got out of here; it was a little short, but I am so proud of her.”

Bond finished the contest 1 for 2 with a stolen base. Sierra High standouts Elizabeth Brown and Stephanie Maestretti both were in the starting lineup for the South, opening the game at third base and catcher, respectively.

DeJesus was awarded a $500 scholarship for her MVP honors, giving her a couple of dollars to help the high school to college transition that she’ll be attacking in the near future.

“It was unexpected,” DeJesus said of the scholarship. “I know that I can really use it, so it will definitely help out.”