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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Mayfield knocks Valley Christian’s softball team out of playoffs with one big inning

May 11, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

Sometimes a game can be won or lost simply with one play. For the Valley Christian High softball team, one play in the top of the fifth inning turned a 2-1 lead into a 6-2 deficit and eventually, the Defenders fell to Mayfield High 6-4 this past Tuesday in a CIF-Southern Section Division 6 second round game.

Mayfied’s Jaz Johnson reached on an error to begin the inning and junior pitcher Bella Bulthuis walked Madilyn Domingo. Following a strikeout, a fly ball to the outfield from Kennedy Taylor was dropped and Johnson came home to tie the game. After another strikeout, which would have gotten the hosts out of the inning, Sophia Page and Mackenzie Taylor had consecutive singles to make it 4-2. Nine batters came to the plate and the Cubs had collected half of their six hits in the frame, quickly taking a 6-2 lead. All five of those runs in the inning were unearned.

“We work hard trying to make error-free innings, but it happens,” said V.C. head coach Chet Kingery. “We fought hard for Bella, and we were trying to come back, but that hill was a little too steep to climb.”

The Defenders, ranked fourth in the division, struck first in their half of the first when freshman right fielder Choyce Chambers singled, stole second and came home on a home run from sophomore shortstop Britton Brown. In between the batters, freshman catcher Peyton Kingery sent a deep fly ball that was caught by Page at the centerfield fence. A few more inches and it would have gone over.

The V.C. bats would be silent over the next three innings with Bulthuis beginning the second with a double and sophomore first baseman Kayla Martin getting a two-out single. But in the fifth, the third place representatives from the Olympic League made things interesting.

Brown homered again, this time with two outs, and that was followed by a double to the right field gap from Martin. Two pitches later, freshman third baseman Brianna Ramirez singled to plate Martin and the lone senior on the team, center fielder Madison Morgan, singled to the left field gap. But on the next pitch, Bulthuis flied out to begin a stretch of seven straight retired by Taylor.

Bulthuis, who got the decision in all 14 games V.C. played, threw 129 pitches, walked eight, struck out two but managed to get out of nearly every jam she was in, getting praise from the second-year head coach.

“It’s kind of been the story all year,” said Chet Kingery. “Throw a lot of pitches, walk a lot of batters, put ourselves in some situations we don’t want to be in. But the defense has been coming up huge all year, making some good plays and getting us out in some big innings. Bella has been making some timely pitches getting herself out of some big innings.”

When the Defenders (8-6) defeated Edgewood High 15-1 last Friday, it marked the first time since 2012 that V.C. had reached the second round of the playoffs. Since then, there have been three first round exits and two wild card losses. This was the first time the program had reached the playoffs since 2018.

Making things better is the fact that the Defenders are still young as three starters are freshmen and three more are sophomores. Kingery can already see some good things on the horizon for the program.

“Like I just told the girls, I asked them to run through a wall; they ran through two of them for me this year,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of this team, and I told them I’m happy to be their coach. I wouldn’t want to coach any other team right now.

“The freshmen and sophomore class were heavy [in numbers],” he continued. “They all stepped up; they’re ballers. I’ve been with the eighth grade class already and I’ve seen what’s coming in. We’re going to be even better next year. Bella is going to stay on the staff as a junior. There’s two eighth grade pitchers coming up who are really good and we’re excited for them to come up and join this talented team. There are a couple of other talented travel ball kids down there who are going to make us better. We’re going to make one hell of a run next year.”

In other softball action, Artesia High, ranked fifth in Division 6, blanked Lennox Academy 12-0 last Friday and defeated Ramona Convent 10-2 this past Tuesday to improve to 15-7. The Pioneers visited Mayfield on May 11 and with a win, will advance to the semifinals on Saturday against either top-ranked J.W. North High or ninth-ranked Granite Hills High.

605 League champion Cerritos High was upset by Los Altos High 6-4 last Thursday to end the season at 15-3 while Gahr High dropped a 9-5 decision to Norco High, the top team in Division 1. The Gladiators wrapped up the season at 12-11-2.

La Mirada High, champions of the Gateway League and ranked seventh in Division 1, was upset by Pacifica High 6-5 in eight innings last Thursday to end the season at 18-8 while Norwalk High, winners of the Mid-Cities League, dropped a 1-0 affair to Culver City last Thursday at home. The Lancers wind up at 17-6.


Four teams remained alive in the playoffs entering Friday’s quarterfinal action. Artesia, a wild card team in Division 7, evened its record to 13-13 after a 3-1 win over Pacifica Christian High of Orange County this pat Tuesday. The Pioneers, ranked 10th in the division, hosts Fillmore High while in Division 3, Cerritos dropped a 7-5 decision to San Clemente High last Tuesday to finish the season at 17-10.

Gahr doubled up Fullerton High 10-5 this past Tuesday in Division 2 action, improving to 23-6-1. The third-ranked Gladiators go to Calabasas High while seventh-ranked La Mirada edged Torrance High 3-2 this past Tuesday to move to 22-7. The Matadores travel to second-ranked Santa Margarita High. All potential semifinal games are on Tuesday.


In Division 2, the Cerritos girls picked up 63 points to finish 16th out of 50 schools while the Cerritos boys finished in 14th place out of 48 schools and gained 74 points. The girls 200-yard medley relay team of senior Sydney Romero, juniors Jasmine Koo and Cayla Oliveira and sophomore Clemence Choy came in sixth place with a time of 1:49.77. Choy also claimed eighth place in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:06.27 and fifth place in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:04.41.

For the boys, senior Nate D’Aloisio finished sixth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 50.40 and eighth in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 58.77 while in the 500-yard freestyle, freshmen Keeno Usita and Andrew Vet were sixth and ninth respectively with times of 4:38.11 and 4:45.99.

In Division 3, the Whitney High girls finished in 11th place out of 65 schools, picking up 80 points with freshman Raphaela Flores winning the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:10.95. She was also part of the 200-yard medley relay team along with sophomore Juliette Tran and freshmen Katelyn Fong and Audrey Vega which finished in seventh place with a time of 1:58.12. That quartet would cap off the finals with a placing of 14th in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:51.16. Flores also finished in eighth place in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:23.07 and Fong came in 12th place in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 56.21. 

The Whitney boys picked up five and a half points, which came from senior Stein Bang, who tied Vincent Wang of Palos Verdes High for 13th place in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.33.

Also in the division, the La Mirada boys gained 22 points as sophomore Lincoln Jones finished in ninth place in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 55.72 and 11th place in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:02.02 while junior Robert Rayfield had a time of 55.50 in the 100-yard butterfly.

In Division 4, the La Mirada girls earned 11 points as the 200-yard medley relay team of senior Samantha Guerrero, juniors Emily Gang and Faith Kim and sophomore Sofia Alonso finished in 15th with a time of 2:18.20. Alonso also had a time of 1:21.47 in the 100-yard breaststroke.

V.C. senior diver Luke Struiksma finished in fourth place in the springboard event with a score of 470.25.