East County Sports

Highlanders roll to tournament title

Slugger Madness Tournament champion Helix Highlanders


By Adam Paul


Helix 9, Santana 0 (Slugger Madness Championship)

LA MESA  – A combination of dominating pitching and a six-run third inning procured the Helix Highlanders the tournament championship over Santana, 9-0, in the Slugger Madness Tournament on Saturday (Apr. 24) morning.

Helix (11-3), who came into the championship game on a two-game losing streak, really clamped down early on as Sophia Ramuno (2-4, 2 R) shut down the Santana Sultans and their potent offense.

“Helix woke up today,” Ramuno said. “Our bats were alive and our defense made the plays. Santana is a good team, we just played at a high-level today.”

Santana (11-4) who came into the contest averaging a little over five runs per game was limited to only four hits on the day as their offense sputtered.

The Highlanders would take advantage of the Sultans in the bottom of the second inning when both Kori Jonilonis (1-3, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR) and Ashton Isbelle (1-4 R) scored on an error made by the right fielder after a base hit by Danika Munoz (2-4, R), the next batter Angel Riggins (3-4, R, RBI) would knock in Ramuno to make it 3-0.

A two-run home run that traveled 240-feet by Jonilonis in the bottom of the third inning would make it 5-0, also scoring on the home run was Nicole Hernandez (2-4, R).

“I’ve been in a slump so it was nice to get some big hits in back-to-back games,” Jonilonis said. “The pitch was a little outside but I think I was a little early on it so I ended up pulling it to left-center. I talked to the girls who batted before me and we talked about her speed and location. In my previous at-bat I was early, so I was able to adjust from the there and drive it.”

Later in the inning Jolene Giles (1-4, R, 2 RBI) drove in Ramuno, and Munoz would score on the throw which gave Helix a 7-0 lead.

Helix would add their last runs courtesy of walks by Bella Bordine (RBI) to bring home Riggins and later a walk by Jonilonis that scored Giles to extend the lead to 9-0.

Natalie Sims would have two hits for Santana while Isabella Cyman and Hailey Phillips had the other two hits.

Lainie Brown got the starting nod for the Sultans and took the loss, she went two and thirds innings, allowing nine runs on ten hits and walking one. Ashtyn Niemic in relief threw three and two thirds, allowing three hits while striking out one and walking two.

Ramuno in the circle for Helix picked up the win, she allowed zero runs on four hits while only walking one and fanning thirteen on the day.

The loss by the Sultans snapped their eight-game winning streak which was their longest since 2017 when they also won eight games in a row.

Helix with their win has now won ten out of their last twelve ballgames which includes a nine-game winning streak.


Bayfront Charter 2, Serra 1 (Slugger Madness small-school division championship)

SPRING VALLEY In the championship contest to Monte Vista’s annual Slugger Madness tournament, it was a pitching duel won by Bayfront Charter, which nipped Serra, 2-1, on Saturday (Apr. 24).

Sharks pitcher Karizma Garcia was selected the event’s most outstanding player as selected by the media, for six solid efforts, including a 3-hitter to stop the Conquistadors.

Garcia threw no-hit ball over the final 4 1/3 inning, including retiring the final six consecutive batters to prevent any Serra comeback. The freshman struck out six Q-Dawgs batters without issuing a walk.

“Karizma  is an amazing pitcher,” said Sharks head coach Mary Grabowski. “She really moved the ball around dominated with her pitches. I was so proud of her.”

After Serra tallied an unearned run in the first inning, Bayfront (13-2) answered with single runs in the third and sixth.

A two-out walk to shortstop Illiana Romero was followed by a game-tying, RBI double to center field by Garcia.

Garcia then triggered the game-winning rally with a leadoff single, eventually scoring on a two-out single by catcher Zoe Andrade, who batted 3-for-3 on the day.

Two of the three hits for Serra (8-3) were recorded by shortstop Aaliyah Sheptock. Freshman pitcher Lydia Weldon  fanned nine Sharks batters.

Bayfront Charter is located in Chula Vista. Grabowski, the head coach,  is the former East County player of the year out of Christian High.

Meanwhile, Serra, located in Tierrasanta, will change its name to Canyon Hills this August, The school  mascot will be the Rattlesnakes (“Rattlers” for short).

Nick Pellegrino




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