Village News Reporter
Eventually Bonsall High School’s softball team was going to lose a league game for the first time since the program began last year. That would occur April 27 in Alpine when Liberty Charter won a 16-0 Summit League game against the Legionnaires.
“It’s a tough loss. The team we played, we could have met their standards,” said Bonsall coach Emily Casillas.
Bonsall was in the Patriot League for 2022, and the Legionnaires had a 6-0 record in league play. Bonsall’s first softball season ended with an 11-5 overall record which included a loss to Borrego Springs in the first round of the CIF Division V playoffs.
The Frontier Conference has two softball leagues: the Patriot League and the Summit League. Initially Bonsall was assigned to the Patriot League for 2023, but when some schools didn’t field teams, the Legionnaires were transferred to the Summit League.
“We got pushed into a different league,” Casillas said.
The Summit League includes Bayfront Charter and Mountain Empire along with Bonsall and Liberty Charter. “We’ve got some new competition that we’re not accustomed to playing,” Casillas said.
Bayfront Charter won a 19-2 home game against Mountain Empire when those teams played April 27, improving the Sharks’ record to 2-0 in league play and 12-4 overall.
Bonsall home games are played at the Pala Sports Complex. A league game against Mountain Empire March 9 in Pala opened Bonsall’s season and ended as a 24-8 Bonsall victory. The Legionnaires then won a 32-2 home game March 28 against Victory Christian. Bonsall also won non-league home games April 11 against Warner and April 14 against Borrego Springs.
The Legionnaires’ first road game of 2023 was a 12-9 win April 20 at Chula Vista Learning Community Charter. St. Joseph Academy traveled to Pala for an April 21 game which ended as a 19-5 Bonsall triumph and gave the Legionnaires a 6-0 record for the season.
“Starting 6 and 0 is amazing for a small school like us,” Casillas said. “We’ve done nothing but improve,” Casillas said. “This year starting 6 and 0 was more than I could ask for.”
The Liberty Charter Lions play home games at Joan MacQueen Middle School which does not have a separate softball field. The synthetic turf field used for football and soccer is used for softball with home plate being on the northeast side of the field.
Metal cleats are not allowed on the synthetic turf field. Bonsall’s primary starting pitcher, sophomore Cali Sauileone, wore tennis shoes that day and freshman Diamond Nava started on the mound. After Nava allowed four runs Sauilone borrowed the shoes of catcher Maddie Rackovan and went to the mound.
“My catcher actually ended up in tennis shoes,” Casillas said. Casillas doesn’t attribute the loss to the turf. “I can’t blame that 100%,” she said.
Nava and Saulione combined to walk 15 Liberty Charter batters. “We were throwing balls,” Casillas said.
The 15 walks were complemented by seven Liberty Charter hits, all singles. The Lions scored eight runs in the first and seven times in the second. Bonsall held Liberty Charter scoreless in the third. The final run was scored in the fourth. The ten-run mercy rule called the game after Bonsall was retired in the top of the fifth inning.
“It was kind of a combination of a lot of unfortunate events. Definitely a frustrating loss, because I think we could have kept up, but we tried,” Casillas said.
“I’m proud of my girls,” Casillas said.
Liberty Charter sophomore Leah Urias pitched against Bonsall and struck out eight batters while allowing only two hits and one walk.