East County Sports

Helix finally earns crown as GHL champs

The Helix Highlanders celebrate on Friday. / Photo Camryn Jonilonis




By Tyler Gribble
Special to East County Sports
SPRING VALLEY – It has been a long time since the Helix Highlander softball program had a league title all to themselves. The Scotties split the Grossmont Valley league crown with El Capitan during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but it had been over twenty years since Helix ended the season alone atop their league. Friday afternoon’s contest between the Scotties and the Cougars would be a huge factor in determining the Grossmont Hills league title: a Helix win would secure them the league championship, while a Steele Canyon win would force Helix into a must-win position in their next and final league game of the season.
In a pressure cooker of a game that, in a recurring theme of their season, was not the prettiest win, the 2021 Highlander squad prevailed, securing the Grossmont Hills League Championship.
“I’m very proud of this group for sticking to the plan, grinding out wins, and pulling together,” Helix head coach DARREN EMERY said after the game. “We haven’t always played well but we found ways to win. This win was a team effort with heart and grit. I could not be more proud of this group.”
The Highlander bats jumped on Cougar starting pitcher EMMA SHELLSTOM in the first, as center fielder KORI JONILONIS (2 1B, 2 R) lined the first pitch of the game into left-center for a leadoff single. Shortstop ANGEL RIGGINS (2B, 2 RBI, BB) followed with a walk, and catcher ISABELLA BORDINE (1B, 2B, IBB) doubled down the left-field line to drive them both in.
With an early 2-0 lead, SOPHIA RAMUNO and the Highlander defense took the field. Steele Canyon shortstop JAZMIN WILLIAMS (1B, 2B) led things off with a single up the middle, but RAMUNO and the defense worked through the early threat with no harm done.
In the second inning, the Highlander bats were silent but in the bottom, the Cougars tied the game as second baseman MARIAH MATA (2 1B, R) singled, outfielder KAMEA SEUNARINE (R) reached on an error, and Williams knocked a double off of the left-field wall to score them both.
Both offenses remained silent until the top of the fifth. With one out, Helix designated player MAGGIE JENKINS (1B) lifted a long single off of the left-field wall, and Jonilonis followed with her second single of the game, putting runners on first and second. Shortstop ANGEL RIGGINS then split the right-center gap with a double that rolled all the way to the wall, scoring pinch-runner DANIKA MUNOZ (R) and JONILONIS, and putting the Highlanders up, 4-2.
Nine outs from victory, and having regained the lead, the Highlanders were reinvigorated. Ramuno buckled down, striking out seven of the last nine outs while allowing just three balls to enter play – a single by BREANNA LAKIN (1B), a popup to first, and a fly ball to right field that was caught by JOLENE GILES for the final out of the game.
Ramuno finished the complete-game victory with fourteen strikeouts, bringing her season total to 192. She allowed five hits, one walk, and two runs, both unearned. Shellstrom pitched six innings for the Cougars, giving up six hits, two walks, and four runs on the day. DAVINA MOYA pitched a scoreless seventh inning while allowing one base hit.
The victory was Helix’s 22nd of the season, tying the school record for most wins in a season, set in 1994. Their 10th win in a row also marks the program’s longest winning streak since 2008.


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