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Five local athletes commit to play at the collegiate level
Signing 1
Hannah Pearce of Hilmar High signs her National Letter of Intent on Thursday morning to play collegiate volleyball at Sonoma State University. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

It was a busy signing week for student-athletes in the Journal’s coverage area after a total of five athletes signed to their respective universities in a three-day span from Wednesday to Friday.

Hilmar’s Hannah Pearce (Sonoma State) along with Turlock High’s Bernie Hollcraft (University of Mary), Sophie Mayol (UC Davis), Kayleb Becerra (SF State) and Dylan Bernardi (Pacific) each took the next step in their future after they officially signed their National Letter of Intent during a 47.5 hour-signing spree.

It started at 1:0 p.m. Wednesday from the Turlock High gym. Mayol (softball), Becerra (baseball) and Bernardi (water polo) signed, in a joint session, on an early day where hundreds of friends, family, coaches and staff members were present to see three young athletes commit to play at the next level.

“It felt like a good fit and everything worked out and I am really happy where I am,” said Mayol about signing to the University of California, Davis. “I sort of see it as a blessing for me to know I get to still play D-I and be close to home and still see a lot of girls I played with or against them. I see it something as an accomplishment for me.”

Mayol is currently batting .316 for the year and leads the Bulldogs with a team-high 18 RBI and is tied for the most home-runs on the team with two after 14 games.

Mayol also assisted the ‘Dogs in ending their playoff slump. Turlock softball made the playoffs in 2017 for the first time since 2009. She was also a first team all-league selection last year and a four-year varsity starter.

“It is something I always thought would be so cool to do, and when I got offers I really thought it was a dream come true,” said Becerra. “It’s just awesome… greatest feeling of my life was probably the coach calling and telling me he wants me to play for him, probably the greatest thing, the top of my bucket list.”

On Thursday morning, Hilmar High volleyball standout —and arguably one of the best setters in program history — Hannah Pearce, signed to play at Sonoma State.

“There were a lot of colleges that were interested in me, but when it came down to it and I went to visit at Sonoma State I just really wanted to go there,” said Pearce. “I felt it was a great fit for me and I loved the team, the girls were really nice I just felt overall it was the best place to go to college.”

Pearce plans to continue her passion for volleyball after a more than memorable career with the Hilmar Yellowjackets, helping them to their first ever Sac-Joaquin Section Championship.

She was part of four straight D-IV SJS title games in her career and was named the 2016 co-Turlock Journal Player of the Year. Pearce joins a Sonoma State team that already boasts former Pride volley standout Ashleigh Phelps.

Turlock High’s Hollcraft closed out the week after signing at 12:30 p.m. on Friday to University of Mary in North Dakota for track and field.

Hollcraft recently hit a personal record in the 100-meter hurdles event, clocking in at 18:08 and placing fifth at the CCC Center Meet #2 this past Wednesday.

However, it was in the 300m hurdles where Hollcraft made her mark after setting a PR with a time of 49.09 and placing first in the second Center Meet.

THS’ Becerra has been a standout at varsity since starting last year after he batted .412 for the season, playing 21 games and currently is batting .333 for the year.

This earned him an opportunity to play at the next level.

“I was talking to Monterey Bay for a little bit, but San Francisco State…being compatible with the coach is the biggest thing for me,” said Becerra. “To be able to see the plans for the future and showing me around and getting to see and be around the team was the biggest thing for me, it is more of a family.”

THS’ Bernardi will be moving on to play water polo at Division-I University of the Pacific.

“It feels awesome because there is such a small percentage of water polo players that play D-I, it’s very unique,” said Bernardi. “Their academics are super rigorous, awesome plan for them and I am going to study biomedical engineering, and alongside the benefits of being an athlete there, it is a ton they offer us, it’s awesome. They are ranked No. 5 in the nation, I can’t take that down.”

Turlock boys water polo went 21-7 overall this past fall and they went 10-2 in the CCC. They beat McClatchy, 14-6, on Nov. 1 in the first round of the Division-I Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

During his junior year in 2016-17, Bernardi went on a scoring frenzy, notching 70 goals in 29 games while adding 33 assists and 56 steals.

Bernardi played varsity at Turlock all four-years and was a first team all-league selection as a senior and the MVP of the team.

“I definitely want to get a degree in four years. I will probably play for five years, redshirt one of them, but get playing time and competing at the D-I level is awesome,” Bernardi added.