East County Sports

Bella having ball with Highlanders



By Tyler Gribble
Special to East County Sports

LA MESA – In a showdown between who are perhaps East County’s best pitchers, the Helix Highlanders prevailed as SOPHIA RAMUNO struck out ten and ISABELLA BORDINE crushed a pair of home runs in a 5-2 win.


The speedy Santana Sultans shortstop TAYLIN WARREN (1B, SB) led off the game with an infield single, and second baseman HAILEY PHILLIPS (2 BB) followed with a walk. KASSIDY MARCH HARPER also reached base, via a hit by pitch, however, RAMUNO worked around the baserunners to successfully neutralize the early threat, inducing a popout and a pair of groundouts.


In the bottom of the first, Helix’s bats were looking to get going after having just one hit against Rancho Bernardo on Saturday. ANGEL RIGGINS (2 BB) led off with a walk, and KORI JONILONIS dutifully advanced her to second with a sacrifice bunt. RIGGINS advanced to third thanks to a groundout by first baseman JOLENE GILES (2 BB, 2 R), but the Highlanders, like the Sultans in the top, failed to take advantage of the scoring threat.


In the bottom of the second, AMBER YOUNG (2B, R, BB, HBP) smacked a double off of the left-field wall. IVY GREENE executed a sacrifice to push her to third, and outfielder VICTORIA VIDRIO (1B) lifted a perfectly placed single over the first baseman to drive in YOUNG.


The Sultans struck back in the top of the third, as PHILLIPS walked and then came around to score thanks to a misplayed ball in deep left-center, off of the bat of MARCH HARPER.


In the bottom, GILES led off with a walk, and catcher ISABELLA BORDINE (2 HR, 5 RBI) followed with a line-drive shot over the left-center fence, making the score 3-1. Helix brought two more runners aboard but Sultan pitcher JOEY BARKHIMER struck out a pair to end the inning.


“I’m really engaging my power that I’ve left out over these four years,” Bordine said. “Santana’s pitchers didn’t miss their spots, they were throwing a good game. I, fortunately, got my hands to the ball on an inside pitch and just happened to drive it.”


In the bottom of the fifth, Helix added another run as outfielder ELAINE MOHAMMAD (1B, HBP, 2 R) was hit by a pitch and third baseman NICOLE HERNANDEZ (2 1B, RBI) singled to deep left-center. GREENE then bunted into an error, scoring MOHAMMAD and adding the Highlanders’ fourth run of the game.


To start the bottom of the sixth, Santana made a pitching change, removing BARKHIMER. She finished the day having allowed three earned runs, five hits, six walks, and eight strikeouts across five innings.


Against the new pitcher ASHTYN NIEMIC, JONILONIS led things off with her second single of the game, followed by GILES reaching via a fielder’s choice. With two runners aboard, BORDINE dug in and lined her second home run of the day over the center-field wall.


“They were both fastballs inside,” Bordine said of her third and fourth homers of the season. “I knew I hit them far enough just by the sound of the bat and how they felt, I could tell they were gone. My bat speed has come from conditioning and weightlifting. I have been lifting heavier over the last few months.


“All the success I have been consistently achieving is thanks to my hitting coach, Sierra Altmeyer. She has been telling me how much power I still haven’t tapped into yet. She has been correcting my swing, which has led to my best success ever. My parents are happy for me. They have seen the work that I have put in and to see the season I have had this year gas been such a blessing.”


With the bases cleared and the score now 7-1, MOHAMMAD singled and YOUNG walked. HERNANDEZ followed with her second single of the game, scoring MOHAMMAD for Helix’s 8th and final run.


RAMUNO ended the day having struck out eleven, matching her total in her last start against the Sultans. She allowed just one hit and walked four, with the only run against her scoring via an error.


“Santana is a very good team,” Ramuno said. “They have a dominating pitcher and a solid lineup with a balance of power and speed. This time, I was able to pitch effectively around them. I had a high walk count but I can move past that.”


With the win, Helix moves to a 13-4 record, entering league play on Wednesday with a road matchup against the West Hills Wolf Pack.


“We can make some history with our softball program,” Bordine said. “But we can’t look that far ahead.”


Santana drops to 12-6 and also enters league play, hosting the El Cajon Valley Braves on Wednesday.



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