Village News Reporter
Bonsall High School's softball team is beginning the 2023 season at or above the level where the Legionnaires concluded their 2022 season.
Play for Bonsall this year began March 9 at the Pala Sports Complex, where the Legionnaires play their home games. The season opener was a 24-8 victory over Mountain Empire. Rain prevented subsequent Bonsall competition until March 28, when the Legionnaires hosted Victory Christian and won by a 32-2 margin.
"I'm very proud of our team this year. We have a lot of solid players," said Bonsall coach Emily Casillas.
Bonsall High School added softball for 2022. The Legionnaires lost their first two games by a combined 45-11 margin and had a 1-3 record before a six-game winning streak put the Legionnaires over .500 for the remainder of the season.
Bonsall's regular season record in their inaugural year was 11-4, and the Legionnaires won all six Patriot League games to obtain the league championship.
A league champion is guaranteed a CIF playoff home game if the league has at least four teams, but the Manzanita League only had three teams so Borrego Springs traveled to Pala for a first-round CIF Division V playoff game even though the Rams were also league champions. An 18-13 Borrego Springs victory finalized Bonsall's 2022 season record at 11-5.
The Legionnaires began the 2022 season with 18 players and ended with 16 players after losing two to injuries or grades. Only four of last year's team members were seniors. This year, the team has 14 players and the entire starting infield is comprised of freshmen. The 2023 team has seven freshmen altogether along with four sophomores, three juniors, and no seniors.
Borrego Springs was the first-ever opponent for Bonsall, and last year the Rams and Legionnaires opened their season in Borrego Springs and the Rams prevailed by a 21-3 margin. Bonsall then lost a 24-8 game at Classical Academy.
This year, the Legionnaires won their first two games by a combined 56-10 margin. The win over Mountain Empire gave the Legionnaires their first-ever Opening Day victory.
"Another good start of the season. The girls played a solid game," Casillas said. "They all played tough."
Bonsall's second win was delayed by rain postponements. "We are making up some games," Casillas said. "We have fallen very behind."
Victory Christian fell behind early in the March 28 game. In the bottom of the first inning, the first nine Bonsall runners all reached base, and the Legionnaires had seven runs with two runners on base before the first out was made.
If a runner leaves base before the pitcher releases the ball she is out, and with nine runs already in, the final two outs in the bottom of the first were made due to that infraction which was a result of sportsmanship rather than negligence. The Knights scored once in the top of the second. Bonsall scored 12 times in the bottom of that frame for a 21-1 lead.
Last year, Bonsall's pitchers consisted of one senior and current sophomore Cali Sauileone. Saulieone started on the mound March 28, and after 2 2/3 innings, freshman Diamond Nava took over pitching duties. The two Bonsall pitchers held the Knights scoreless in the top of the third. Bonsall then scored 10 times in the bottom of the third for a 31-1 advantage.
Each team scored once in the fourth inning. When the Knights were held scoreless in the top of the fifth, the 10-run mercy rule applied and the game ended.
"Started off strong, had some good hitting, good running," Casillas said.
"Everybody played super well tonight," Casillas said. "I'm super proud of my team and how the girls have pulled together."