HS Softball: Linfield Christian Defeats Ontario Christian 7-4 in Ambassador League Finale

Jenna Perez Struck Out 9 and Hits a Grand Slam Home Run to Lead the Lady Lions to Victory

By Warren Eastman

In their final Ambassador League game of the season, Linfield Christian defeated league champion Ontario Christian Knights 7-4 on Thursday. Linfield pitcher Jenna Perez struck out 9 and hit a grand slam home run to lead the Lady Lions to victory. Alex Perez was three for three with a double and a walk. Payton Howie was two for four with a home run and three runs batted in.

Ontario Christian fell back into a tie with Aquinas but holds the tiebreaker over Aquinas. Linfield Christian finished in third place.

Linfield opened the scoring with one run in the top of the first inning. JaeCe Simon led off with a walk. One out later, Jenna Perez hit into fielder’s choice force out at second, replacing Simon at first. Alex Perez hit a line drive single to left field with Jenna Perez moving to second. Howie then hit a fly ball single into short center field, scoring Jenna Perez.

In the second inning with two outs, Ashlynne Burk got the Knights first hit, a triple to deep left center. Jenna Perez struck out the next batter to end the threat. 

After Jenna Perez struck out seven of the first eight hitters, Ontario Christian tied the game in the bottom of the fourth. Alexis Toledo led off with a walk and moved to second on a fly ball single to short left field by Kaitlyn Hawkins. Both runners moved up on an illegal pitch call. Autumn Moya then drove in Toledo with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Center fielder Alex Perez threw a strike to third baseman Sarah Newman to catch Hawkins attempting to take third for a double play.

Linfield came right back in the top of the fifth inning. Natalie Santillan led off with a line single to right field, followed by Nayana Jenkins ground single up the middle. Simon hit into a shortstop to third fielder’s choice, erasing Santillan. Kiki McGRath was hit by pitch to load the bases. Jenna Perez then unloaded them with high fly ball home run over the center field fence.

Ontario Christian got one back in the bottom of he sixth. With one out, Toledo hit a line single to left field. One out later, Moya reached on an infield error with Toledo going all the way to third. Toledo then scored on a passed ball.

Linfield again answered with two runs in the top of the seventh to create some separation. With one out, Alex Perez singled up the middle and moved to second when the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Howie then hit a long line drive home run over the left field fence,  bringing in Alex Perez.

Ontario Christian then rallied for two more in the bottom of the seventh. Burk led off with her second triple of the day, this time to the right field corner. Reese Montgomery followed with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Burk. Harper Haagsma hit a fly ball single to short left field. After Jenna Perez’s ninth strikeout, Haagsma moved to second on a passed ball and came home on Sierra Banuelos’ fly ball single to short left field. After a walk to Toledo, a fly ball out to center field ended the game.

Jena Perez now leads the Ambassador League with 75 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched in league play. Alex Perez has now been walked 20 times in fourteen league games as teams continually tried to avoid her hitting.

Linfield Christian finished the regular season with a season record of 18-6 and a league record of 11-3. CIF-SS playoff brackets will be announced on Monday.

File Photos by Stephanie LaFleur