Helix (7-3) is off to strong start in 2022 spring softball season


Courtesy photo The Helix Charter High School softball team emerged from last Saturday’s finals of the 38th annual Hilltop tournament with the championship trophy after defeating Holtville High School, 5-2, in extra innings

The Helix Charter High School softball team finished last year’s season with a runner-up finish in the San Diego Section Division II championship game, a 4-0 setback to the second-seeded Otay Ranch Lady Mustangs.
It was an otherwise highly successful – and eventful – season for the Grossmont Hills League champions, who finished 26-6 after a perfect 10-0 finish in league play.
The Lady Highlanders appear ready to take off where they left off after capturing a 5-2 championship game win over Holtville to cap play in this year’s 38th annual Hilltop tournament last Saturday in Chula Vista.
Helix, in advance of Grossmont Hills League play, improved its season record to 7-3 after finishing 4-1 in its five tournament games.
“We were excited to be part of the Hilltop tournament as every year there are quality teams participating,” Helix Charter head coach Darren Emery said. “To emerge as the tournament champions is a nice accomplishment for our squad.”
The Lady Highlanders and Lady Vikings played to a 2-2 draw through seven innings before the East County team plated three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to walk off with the tournament title.
Senior Sophia Ramuno had two hits and drove in two runs while senior Amber Young had two hits and drove in one run. Freshman Lauren Farace had one hit, drove in one run and scored twice.
Junior Kamryn Evans had one hit (triple) and scored two runs while classmate Angel Riggins had one hit and scored one run.
Ramuno pitched all eight innings, striking out 15 batters while allowing four hits, two walks and two earned runs. Helix never trailed in the game, scoring one run in the bottom of the first inning and adding another run in the bottom of the fifth inning before Holtville tied the game with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning.
“Just like last year’s CIF Division II runners-up, this year’s Helix team will win with great pitching, solid defense and timely hitting,” Emery said. “Our senior starting pitcher, Sophia Ramuno, delivered an outstanding pitching performance in the Hilltop tournament finals against Holtville allowing only two-runs while striking out 15. It’s the type of performance we have come to expect out of her.
“I thought the triple by Kamryn Evans in the fifth inning was a huge lift for our offense. That fired up our bench and instilled some confidence that we could score some runs. We were finally able to capitalize on our scoring opportunities in the eighth inning behind contributions from Lauren Farace, Angel Riggins and Sophia to pull out the win.”
Junior Kalli Strahm pitched all eight innings for Holtville, allowing eight hits, two earned runs and striking out four batters. Sophomore Kaitylyn Havens drove in two runs in the loss. The loss was the first on the season for the Lady Vikings (7-1).
The Scotties were aided by three Holtville errors.
This year’s tournament featured a field of 16 teams, including both of last year’s Division II finalists, defending tournament champion Mission Hills and Bonita Vista from the Open Division. Tournament play was divided into two eight-team pools, with each team playing four pool games. The two pool winners advanced to the championship game.
Several games were rescheduled due to rain after the tournament faced off on March 1.
Helix finished 3-1 in pool play after logging wins over Southwest El Centro (11-3 on March 3), Valhalla (11-1 on March 5) and Clairemont (8-0 on March 10). Helix lost, 10-0, to Bonita Vista on March 5. Evans had two hits and three RBI in the win over Southwest El Centro while Riggins and Ramuno both drove in two runs. Senior Lily White and Farace shared pitching duties, scattering eight hits and striking out eight batters.
Riggins had two hits and four RBI in the win over Valhalla while Evans hit a home run with two RBI. Ramuno pitched five innings in the run-rule win with three hits allowed and 10 strikeouts.
Bonita Vista out-hit Helix 13-3 in grabbing the run-rule victory. Riggins had one double in the loss as the Lady Barons grabbed a 6-0 lead through the opening two innings.
The Lady Highlanders bounced back with the win over Clairemont as White and Young both collected two RBI. Ramuno allowed two hits and struck out 14 batters in the seven-inning contest.
Holtville defeated Otay Ranch (2-1 on March 1), Point Loma (13- 3 on March 2), Calexico (7-5 on March 5) and West Hills (7-4 on March 5) to advance to the championship game.
Through 10 games, Farace has strung together a 0.452 hitting average with 14 hits, five doubles, one triple, seven RBI and 11 runs scored. Ramuno led the team with nine RBI while also blasting one home run along with Evans and Riggins. Ramuno is 5-1 in the pitching circle in seven game appearances with 87 strikeouts in 44.1 inning pitched and 2.37 ERA. White (1- 1) has 15 strikeouts in 13.2 inning to go with a 3.59 ERA.
Participating teams in the tournament included five from East County: Helix, Valhalla, Steele Canyon, El Capitan and West Hills. Other participating teams included Hilltop, Bonita Vista, Otay Ranch and Olympian from the Metro Conference as well as Holtville, Southwest El Centro and Calexico from Imperial Valley and Clairemont, University City and Point Loma from the City Conference, and Mission Hills from North County.
Valhalla (9-3) finished 3-2 in tournament play, including a 3-2 loss to Olympian on Saturday in a cross-bracket game. The Lady Norsemen defeated Southwest El Centro (8-2 on March 1), El Capitan (7-5 on March 3) and Hilltop (4-3 on Saturday) to finish 3-1 in pool play.
Steele Canyon (10-3-2) finished 3-1-1 in the tournament with wins over Mission Hills (3-2 on March 3), Point Loma (6-1 on March 5) and Olympian (14-13 on March 10) and a tie against University City (6-6 on Saturday). In the 14-13 win over Olympian, senior Isabella Smith had two hits with three RBI while junior Jazmin Williams, freshman Isabella Azevedo, senior Breanna Lakin and senior Abby Curran all picked up two RBI. Williams led the Lady Cougars in the game with four hits, including a pair of doubles.
West Hills (3-3) finished 2-2 in pool play with wins over Calexico (5-2 on March 3) and Otay Ranch (17-9 on March 10) and losses to Holtville (7-4 on March 5) and Olympian (5-3 on March 7). The Lady Wolf Pack closed out tourney play with an 8-7 loss to Mission Hills (10-3) on Saturday.
El Capitan (5-5) finished 2-3 in the Hilltop tournament, ending play with a 2-1 win over Otay Ranch on Saturday as sophomore Alyssa Fierro and senior Hailey Mulligan each drove in one run and freshman Peyton Wells picked up the complete game victory by scattering five hits.
MaxPreps through March 15
1. Rancho Bernardo (11-1-1)
2. Poway (7-1-1)
3. Bonita Vista (8-3)
4. Del Norte (10-1-1)
5. Mission Hills (10-3)
6. Mater Dei Catholic (6-2)
7. Holtville (8-1)
8. Valhalla (9-3)
9. Helix (7-3)
10. Cathedral Catholic (4-3-1)