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College Bound Lady Bruins Avey, Lopez Nab Softball Scholarships
June's graduation ceremonies at Riverbank High will mark the final prep moments for Bruin seniors Carlye Avey and Aimee Lopez, but the two talented athletes are nowhere near the end of their respective softball careers.

Avey signed with Simpson University on March 15 and Lopez did the same for Felician University on Tuesday to leave both players committed to receive partial scholarships to play Division II college softball.

The honor follows spectacular high school careers under Bruin coach Cassi Ross and superb performances with the Running Rebels Gold travel softball program.

"Both girls have been a huge part of my program and I love them both like they are my own kids," coach Ross said. "Both of them picked the school they wanted to go to, and their grades and work ethic has made it all possible."

Avey (pitcher) and Lopez (shortstop) are the two cornerstones of the Bruin defense this season in a year that has Trans-Valley League teams scrambling in one of the most exciting and hard-fought title races in conference history.

Riverbank (10-7 overall) is still in the hunt for a playoff qualification, but the TVL is in a rare position where all seven programs could beat any other. It has been an interesting year for Avey to see her senior season play out the mound.

"It's been so confusing and so stressful this season," Avey said on Monday. "It's still anyone's year and we won't know how we are going to end up until the end."

Avey has struck out 89 hitters in just over 100 innings of work this season, and sports a sharp 2.23 earned run average with only 13 total walks. It's the kind of success that earned her a spot on the Running Rebels 18-and-under team when she was only in eighth grade.

The Rebels gave college coaches a good look at Avey's prowess on the mound. Ultimately, the same scouts that landed Avey's sister (Cali Avey) a scholarship, convinced Carlye to sign for a partial scholarship in mid March. She will live with her sister on the college campus in Redding, and enjoy the same camaraderie the two shared as Running Rebels and Riverbank teammates.

"I will have my sister there to show me around for the first two years," Avey noted. "I am really excited to move on and get out of high school."

Lopez won't be joining any siblings at Felician campus in New Jersey, but said her younger sister, Amanda Lopez (Bruin junior) has talked with Felician coaches about playing softball for the Golden Falcons in the Spring of 2013.

The Felician campus is a short drive from New York City and lists Aimee as the only shortstop recruit from the 2011 high school class. Lopez caught the attention of Felician coaches when she landed a perfect day at the plate and made some big defensive plays in a travel softball tournament over the offseason.

"I was just playing in the tournament and didn't even know a Felician coach was there," Lopez said. "Afterwards a coach approached me and gave me her card."

Lopez will join TVL foe Katie Heflin of Escalon at the D-II school. The same coach recruited both Running Rebels standouts after the same game. The Lady Bruin shortstop (.948 fielding percentage) has been fantastic in the infield, and has landed 18 steals in 19 attempts on the base paths. She leads Riverbank in home runs, runs scored and sports a sharp .367 batting average from the plate.

The Bruins have a young team with a lot of talent coming up, but will certainly miss the two college stars next season.

And the feeling will be mutual.

"I will definitely miss the school and coaches, all four years have been filled with a lot of memories," Avey said. At the same time I am really excited about going to college."

"It's kind of nerve-wracking to know I am going all the way across the country to play softball," Lopez added. "It was a such a good learning experience at Riverbank High."