East County Sports

Emery family plays it out on softball field




By Tyler Gribble



LA MESA – The Grossmont Foothiller-Helix Highlander rivalry had an added layer of intrigue as attendees were treated to a rare occurrence on Friday afternoon. A parent and child were on opposite sides of the softball field.

In a meeting that had been brewing since the 2018’19 school year, when DARREN EMERY was named Helix’s head softball coach and his, daughter, NATALIE EMERY, joined the Grossmont softball team, it’s Coach Emery who brought home bragging rights, at least until these teams meet again on May 26.

Coach Emery’s squad executed in every facet of the game, tallying twelve hits and eight runs while allowing just one run and committing no errors in the field.

“Playing against my dad’s team was a lot different because I have always been used to him coaching me,” Natalie Emery said. “It the moment, it was just like any other game but I was a little nervous because I wanted to play well. Before the game, we didn’t say much, but we are both competitive and did end up wishing each other good luck.”

The Foothillers struck first as Natalie Emery (1B, 2B, R) led the game off with a double slapped over the shallow-playing left fielder, and KIMBERLY BOND (1B) followed with a single up the middle, scoring Natalie Emery. After the run, Helix pitcher SOPHIA RAMUNO quickly settled in, retiring the next three batters in order.

In the bottom of the first, the Highlander batters responded in kind. AUDREY KULL (2 1B, BB, 2 R, RBI), making her first game appearance in two weeks, drew a walk and ISABELLA BORDINE (2B, BB, R, RBI) drove her in with a double smashed off of the left-center field wall.

Ramuno (2 1B, 2B, R, 2 RBI) followed by lining a ball that rolled all the way down the left-field line, scoring Bordine, and putting the Highlanders on top.

“For me, it’s not necessarily where the pitch breaks as it is keeping a level swing and making contact,” Ramuno said. “I like to adjust me spot in the box based on where the pitcher throws.”

In the bottom of the second, Helix added to their lead as LILLY WHITE (1B, R, RBI) singled, ASHTON ISBELL (BB) walked, and KORI JONILONIS (1B, R, RBI) drove White in with another single. Kull followed with an infield single, scoring Isbell and making the score 4-1. The Highlanders added one more run as Ramuno popped out to the second baseman Natalie Emery in foul territory, and Coach Emery had Jonilonis tag up and score on the sacrifice fly.

Helix added another pair of insurance runs in the sixth as Ramuno singled and ANGEL RIGGINS (2B, R) doubled, followed by an RBI groundout by White and an RBI single by AMBER YOUNG (2 1B, RBI). They added one final run when Kull singled and then later came around to score on a defensive error.

The Foothillers attempted a late rally in the top of the seventh, with ALYSSA BOLDEN (1B) and ALEXIS FLEISCHER (1B, HBP) each tallying a base hit. However, Ramuno navigated the threat with no damage done, ending the game having allowed just one run, scattering five hits, and striking out six.

For the Emery family, the game went about as well as it could on both sides, as Natalie Emery managed a pair of base hits as well as a couple of defensive gems, while Coach Emery’s team earned the decisive victory.

“I was a proud dad to see Natalie step up and have a huge game for Grossmont with all the pressure on her shoulders with having her dad in the other dugout,” Darren Emery said. “I am happy we won but more proud of my daughter. She made some great plays at second base.”

With the win, Helix rises to 15-4 overall and 2-0 in league while Grossmont drops to 3-10 and 0-2 in the Grossmont Hills League.

“I definitely wanted to defeat (my dad) on the field so I could rub it in his face but it didn’t go as planned,” Natalie Emery said. “Despite the loss, it was a fun experience to play against my dad.”


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