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Living the dream

Submitted photo by Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman
American-Statesman | American-Statesman

When freshman softball player Stephanie Ceo steps on the diamond today at the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, she will be realizing a dream that only a select group gets to experience.

“It’s just a dream come true,” Ceo said in a phone interview. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was 6.”

In her first year at the collegiate level, Ceo has been a welcomed addition to the Texas Longhorn squad, which went 49-8 overall, won the Austin Super Regional and is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation as it takes its place among the final eight teams.



But playing on a winning team is nothing new for Ceo.

The 2012 Bear River grad won three section titles as a member of the Lady Bruin softball team, and the four-year varsity player capped her career with a title game win against Whitney in which she hit two home runs, one of which was a grand slam.




This season, Ceo has played in all 57 Longhorn games, starting 53 of them and in a multitude of positions.

“I knew she went to Texas as a utility player, and she has more than proved she can handle it,” Ceo’s high school coach Duane Zauner said. “She was always willing to put in the extra time and effort. And her love for the game — if kids have the love, great things can happen.

Playing the outfield, second base and shortstop throughout the season, Ceo offers Texas a lot of options in the field to go with several tools at the plate.

This season, Ceo has spent most of her offensive effort giving Texas an effective bat in the No. 9 spot. Entering today’s WCWS opening game against Arizona State, Ceo is batting .328 with 40 hits, three doubles, a triple, 14 RBIs and eight stolen bases.

Texas’ first test will be today at 4 p.m. against the Sun Devils from Arizona State. The No. 4 ranked Sun Devils (45-10) earned a berth into the WCWS by beating Kentucky in the Super Regionals.

“We just need to play our game and have no regrets,” Ceo said of her team’s approach to the WCWS. “Take it one pitch at a time, one play at a time and, of course, along the way, try to win a national championship.”

For a while during the Super Regional stage, it looked as if Ceo was on a crash course to meet older sister Courtney Ceo, an infielder for the No. 3 ranked Oregon Ducks, in the WCWS. But an upset at the hands of No. 14 Nebraska eliminated Courtney and the Ducks from the postseason.

“It was tough,” Courtney Ceo said. “Especially how high we were ranked and how great the team was. We’re very disappointed here in Eugene.”

Despite having to watch the WCWS from home, Courtney said she is very proud of her little sister and honored to have her family represented in Oklahoma City.

“It has been a dream of both ours,” Courtney said of her and Stephanie competing at the Division I level. “Playing with each other growing up and having that friendly competition between us pushed us both to an elite level.”

On the season Courtney, a junior, played and started all 59 games, batted .410, scored 54 runs, notched four home runs, drove in 27 and stole 23 bases.

While both Ceo’s play for top-10 teams, they say their conversations throughout the season stay mostly in the realm of “sister stuff.”

“We try to talk as much as we can,” Courtney said. “It’s mostly about sister stuff and staying positive. If she’s home sick, I can help her out because I’ve been through it and know how to handle it.”

Courtney and Stephanie are the youngest of four Ceo sisters and the daughters of Sierra College hitting coach Brad Ceo and Roseville assistant coach Kim Ceo.

While Courtney couldn’t be on hand for today’s game due to finals, Kim, Brad and older sister Brittany will be cheering Stephanie live. Not to mention the throngs of fans, former coaches and past teammates in Nevada County who will be following the fantastic freshman.

“After I was on ESPN, I started to get lots of texts and calls from home saying good job and that they are proud of me,” Stephanie said.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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