By Bill Tamburrino
Coach Antoinette Rodriguez’s varsity softball team advanced to the CIF championship game for the first time in school history.
Ramona beat Cathedral Catholic in a slugfest in the semifinals on May 26 and lost to the number one seed University City (25-3) in the finals May 28. The Lady Bulldogs had defeated University City earlier in the playoffs to put the Centurions in the losers bracket.
The Lady Bulldogs got off to a slow start against Cathedral Catholic (17-12, 6-4), but things heated up in a hurry. Cathedral Catholic scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 3-0 lead.
Ramona then put on its rally caps and scored four runs to take a lead it would not relinquish.
With one down, KK Melgoza doubled. Kellsie Domnitz drove in Melgoza with a single, her first of three hits. Amber Davis reached on a fielder’s choice. Emily Vandervort then reached on an error.
In stepped freshman Kailey Hill. Hill looked more like a cleanup hitter than the leadoff batter that she is. Hill hit a line drive over the leftfield fence for a three-run homer and the slugfest was on.
The Lady Dawgs added to their lead in the third inning. Julie Ward started the rally with a single. Melgoza ripped her second hit of the game. Domnitz drove in Ward with a single.
Davis then doubled to centerfield driving in Melgoza. Vandervort came up with an RBI single scoring Domnitz. Kim Whelehon drove in with a fielder’s choice, and the Lady Dawgs had an 8-3 lead.
Cathedral Catholic scored a run in the bottom of the third, but Ramona was not done scoring. With one out, Melgoza stroked her third hit of the game and then stole second to lead off the fourth inning. Davis reached on an error and Melgoza scored on the play.
Cathedral Catholic hit two home runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and scored three runs to make it a 9-7 game. Hill replaced Ward in the circle and slammed the door shut to pick up the save. Ward went the first five and a third innings and gave up seven runs (four earned) and scattered nine hits to pick up the win.
The Lady Bulldog defense came up with some great plays during the game. In the bottom of the second inning, KK Melgoza literally ran through the centerfield fence to rob a Cathedral hitter of a grand slam home run and keep the Dons from taking the lead.
In the sixth inning, Hill started a 1-3-6 double play to end the inning. Lexi Slater played a stellar game at shortstop and Cassie Ford kept the defense together from her position as catcher.
Two-time defending champion University City High School scored seven runs in the first inning of the championship game to put the game out of reach. The final score was 12-2.
“We tried to keep the girls fired up after giving up seven runs in the first inning, said Rodriguez. “For the most part, we put the ball in play. All season we have worked on putting the ball in play. That is all that we ask our girls to do.
“It was an awesome experience getting to the championship game. Getting here was one of the goals that we set in February. This was our dream.”
Ramona could only get three hits off University City’s ace, Amanda Hansen. Melgoza doubled in Ward, and Domnitz ended her Lady Bulldog career by driving in Melgoza with a single in the same inning. Slater also singled in the championship game.
Slater received the CIF Sportsmanship Award during the awards ceremony after the game. A patch is given to a player on each team that exemplifies the CIF’s Victory with Honor program. The patch can be worn on Slater’s letter jacket.
Seniors Cassie Ford, Kellsie Domnitz and Lexi Slater ended their RHS careers by leading their team to the CIF championship game.