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Local athletes sign up to play at the next level
Turlock High signings
Turlock High's Katie Parker (volleyball), Payton Hawkinson (baseball) and Jenna Dean all signed their respective letters of intent to play college ball (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

Five Turlock seniors signed letters of intent to play collegiate athletics, as the singing period for National Letters of Intent commenced this week.

Turlock High’s Payton Hawkinson (Cal State Fullerton baseball), Katie Parker (San Francisco State volleyball) and Jenna Dean (Sonoma State soccer), Pitman High’s Addison Mettler (UCLA softball; see related story), and Turlock Christian’s Gavin Farinha (Master’s College baseball) made their choices and put pen to paper to make it official.

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Turlock High volleyball player Katie Parker signed to San Francisco State (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

Parker helped lead the Bulldogs to a second-place finish in the Central California Athletic League and a berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

“I like that (SF State) is close to home and that it’s close to the beach,” said Parker, a middle blocker who plans to major in kinesiology. “And I really just loved the coaches and the team. I thought it was a great environment.”

Dean led the Bulldogs with 29 goals and 10 assists last year and her team to a second-place CCAL finish and a spot in the D-I playoffs.

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Turlock High soccer player Jenna Dean gets a hug from coach Nicole Lonergan (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

“I can tell that the (Sonoma State) program is really going to challenge me,” said Dean, whose season gets underway on Tuesday with a preseason game against Oakdale at Joe Debely Stadium (3:30 p.m.). “It’s great that all the hard work paid off.”

Farinha and Hawkinson will enter their senior campaigns with huge expectations.

Farinha led the nation as a junior with six no-hitters, was third in the nation with 155 strikeouts and was one of 12 pitchers nationally to record an ERA of 0.00. His 12 victories last season — against no losses — was the third highest win total in the country.

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Turlock Christian's Gavin Farinha signs letter of intent to play at Master's College in Santa Clarita (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

“I’ve talked to probably 10 D-I schools,” said Farinha. “But I just believe in going to a Christian school and I value more how I mature as a young man than the hype of D-I. My plan — everyone’s plan — is Major League Baseball. To get drafted, I just believe if you’re good enough, you’ll stand out anywhere.”

In Farinha’s 12 starts last year, only once did he allow more than one hit — Millennium managed to get three hits off the 6-foot, 190-pounder. He also reached double digits in strikeouts in all but two of his starts, fanning 20 of the 24 hitters he faced in a one-hit victory over Foresthill.

Hawkinson, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound southpaw, was 6-3 with a 2.38 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched, with five complete games, as a junior. 

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Turlock baseball coach Mike Souza and Payton Hawkinson (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

“Throughout this recruiting process, (Fullerton) really stood out,” said Hawkinson. “The way the players on their team carry themselves, their coaching style is different — they are team of development guys, they focus more on the players and having a good team chemistry — just fighting together on every at-bat, every pitch.”