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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Valley Christian softball falls to Whittier Christian in battle for first place in Olympic League

April 10, 2024

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

LA HABRA-It had been over two weeks since the Valley Christian High softball team had played a game and a week and half for Whitter Christian High. Those two met this past Tuesday with first place in the Olympic League on the line.

The first half of the game was a pitcher’s duel between senior Bella Bulthuis and Bobbie Lozano with the former allowing two hits and retiring six straight at one point while the latter, who was celebrating her birthday, sat down 11 straight at one point. But with the Heralds turning their lineup over for the third time, V.C. head coach Chet Kingery made a pitching change with his team up 1-0, and it backfired. With two on and two out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Aleena Garcia launched a long fly ball off freshman Rachel Zhang that went over the centerfield fence to help Whittier Christian rally for a 2-1 victory.

“We did a great job; I’m very happy with the way we played today, not playing in 15 days,” he said. “I’ll take that L; I overcoached a little bit. Aleena Garcia is a great hitter, and I should have put her on. That was the game plan and I got greedy and tried to sneak another fly ball, especially into the win.”

Whittier Christian has now won 29 straight league games, nine straight over V.C. and 12 of the last 13 over the Defenders. The last time V.C. defeated the Heralds was on May 3, 2018, an 8-7 decision.

Bulthuis was shaky early on as Aly Plimpton reached on an error with one out in the first and went to third after Garcia doubled to the right field gap. But she would get the next four outs before Ava Schulz was safe on another error. After walking Rylee Cull, Bulthuis induced Sofia Hernandez into a groundout to end that threat. The only other blemish for Bulthuis was a two-out single to Lozano in the fourth. She would end the game throwing 47 pitches, allowing five runners to reach base and walked one.

“Just finding the strike zone in the first couple of batters was a little tough,” said Kingery of Bulthuis. “But we found out what was working by the third hitter, and we just went with that. She executed her pitches and hit her spots.”

V.C., ranked eighth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 poll, got out to an early lead as Lozano walked sophomore center fielder Choyce Chambers to begin the game and allowed an infield base hit to sophomore catcher Peyton Kingery. Both runners advanced on a groundout from junior first baseman Kayla Martin before junior shortstop Britton Brown singled to left to plate Chambers. However, on the play, Kingery would be thrown out at home on a close play that everyone on the third base side believed should have been a safe call. That was the beginning of 11 straight outs by Lozano and her defense.

While the Defenders (11-4, 3-1) would get two hits and another on base over the last three innings, Whittier Christian (15-7, 4-0) took advantage of Zhang, who was now in the circle. After walking Hernandez with one out, Plimpton singled to right but on the play, freshman right fielder Tallulah Ireland would throw a dart to Ramirez who tagged Hernandez trying to get to third. Two pitches later came Garcia’s home run, but after that, Zhang walked Mia Camacho on eight pitches before escaping further damage when Jailyn Paderez grounded out.

“They’re a great hitting team and you can’t let a great hitting team see a pitcher three times, especially when they’re just missing balls,” said Chet Kingery. “That was 100 percent the, ‘hey, I don’t want them to see [Bulthuis] a third time. Let’s throw them something different’.”

He continued to say that Bulthuis would have been removed when the top of the lineup came up in the fifth inning no matter what the score was or how many pitches Bulthuis had thrown. In fact, at practice this past Monday, Kingery had told Bulthuis to give him three innings and she exceeded that by one.

V.C. had a chance to at least tie the game following the home run in the top of the sixth. Chambers led off with a first-pitch infield single, stole second and went to third on an error on the same play. But she would eventually get caught in a rundown trying to score and the Defenders were unable to touch Lozano the rest of the way.

“Anytime you get runners in scoring position, you have to come through,” said Chet Kingery. “You have to manufacture runs against them because they don’t give up many. Their defense is really good; they don’t make mistakes. We have to do a better job of looking for pitches to drive with runners in scoring position and staying in our zone, and we didn’t do a good job at that.”

The Defenders went to Maranatha High on Apr. 11 and will go to Village Christian High on Thursday. The rematch with Whittier Christian will be on Apr. 24, the last game of the regular season.

“We’re sitting okay,” said Chet Kingery. “Of course, we wanted the score to be different, but we prepared right and now they see it. To come out and have a 1-0 lead going into the sixth inning, that’s awesome.”

In other softball action, Artesia High (9-7-1, 4-2 in the 605 League) blanked Whitney High (8-6, 1-3) 16-0 this past Tuesday as it will host Pioneer High on Friday before going to Oxford Academy on Tuesday. The Wildcats visited John Glenn High on Apr. 11 and will be home to Oxford Academy on Friday before going to Buena Park High on Monday and entertaining Cerritos High on Tuesday.

Cerritos, ranked 12th in Division 3, improved to 12-1, 6-0 with an 8-5 win over Pioneer this past Tuesday. The Dons will entertain last place Glenn on Friday before going to Whitney on Tuesday while Gahr High roughed up Warren High 18-2 this past Tuesday, moving to 11-9, 3-1 in the Gateway League. The Gladiators will host Mayfair High on Tuesday before going to La Mirada High on Thursday.

La Mirada (15-4-2, 4-0 in the Gateway League) is the sixth-ranked team in Division 1 and visited Downey High on Apr. 11. The Matadores will also go to Warren on Tuesday while Norwalk High beat up on Dominguez High 14-3 this past Tuesday to move to 14-6, 4-1 in the Mid-Cities League. The Lancers travelled to Lynwood High on Apr. 11 and will host Firebaugh High on Tuesday before their first place battle with Paramount High on Thursday.


Artesia (7-9, 2-3) dropped an 8-5 decision to Oxford Academy this past Tuesday to fall to fourth place in the 605 League. The teams will meet on Friday at Oxford Academy, then the Pioneers will host third place Glenn on Tuesday with playoff implications on the line.

Cerritos shutout Whitney 20-0 this past Tuesday, then lost to Costa Mesa High 10-9 in 10 innings the next day to drop to 14-5, 5-0. The Dons, who rallied from a 7-1 deficit after three innings to take a 9-8 lead going to the bottom of the sixth inning, will welcome Whitney on Friday and Heritage Christian High on Saturday, weather permitting, before beginning its home and home series with Oxford Academy on Tuesday in what will decide first place.

Gahr, ranked 10th in Division 1, had no problems with Downey High this past Tuesday in a 10-2 conquest, sending the Gladiators to 12-6 overall and 6-0 in the Gateway League. Gahr hosted the Vikings on Apr. 11 and will be home to Santiago High out of Corona on Friday and Notre Dame High out of Sherman Oaks on Saturday if the rain stays away. The Gladiators then begin a home and home series with Norwalk on Tuesday and then go to Temecula Valley High on Wednesday.

Glenn, ranked eighth in Division 8, slammed Pioneer High 13-1 this past Tuesday on a combined no-hitter from three pitchers. The Eagles, who moved into third place in the 605 League, improved to 10-6, 3-2 as they went to South Gate High on Apr. 11 and will visit Pioneer on Friday ahead of their big series with Artesia.