NEW BETHLEHEM — She wouldn’t nearly be the first Redbank Valley Lady Bulldogs softball player to pick for a big home run. In fact, it was just about the opposite thought when it came to senior Kaia Rearick.
“Excellent bunter and great speed,” said Lady Bulldogs head coach John Sayers.
But on a cold Tuesday afternoon season-opening game for the Lady Bulldogs against A-C Valley at the New Bethlehem Little League Field, it was Rearick who blasted a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning of a 13-10 win.
Rearick’s homer over the left-field fence culminated an up-and-down game for the Lady Bulldogs, who trailed 4-0 going into the bottom of the third.
They tied it at 4-4 in the fifth, then after trailing 6-4 going into the bottom of the sixth, the Lady Bulldogs erupted for four runs to take an 8-6 lead into the seventh.
But A-C Valley rallied for four runs to take another lead of 10-8 going into the bottom of the seventh.
Six batters later, Rearick was the hero and the Lady Bulldogs had their first win. Sami Leasure singled and went to third on an outfield error. Elaina Miller pinch-ran for her and Dakota Hetrick singled her in.
A walk to Becca Kunselman put the game-winning run on base and after a Brynn Rearick popout for the first out, Lauren Smith walked to load the bases.
“I wanted her to put the ball in play, Kaia is a tiny girl and she’s definitely not known as a home run hitter,” Sayers said. “I wanted her to put it in play, not pop it up and as soon as it went off the bat, I knew the outfielder was burned, but I said ‘Holy crap, it’s over the fence.’ It was wild.”
Rearick’s slam capped a 16-hit effort for the Lady Bulldogs, who overcame some shaky defense and baserunning to get the come-from-behind win. While Rearick wound up with two hits and her four RBIs on the homer, Brooke Holben came up big with three hits, including a triple, while driving in six runs.
Torilynn Nelson went 4-for-4 with a double while Leasure and Hetrick each had two hits.
“We could’ve easily cashed it in starting down 4-0 and then after we gave up the lead in the seventh, we could’ve quit but the kids never dropped their heads,” Sayers said.
Hetrick went all seven innings on the mound for the Lady Bulldogs, giving up 13 hits while walking three and striking out seven. Three Lady Bulldogs errors led to five unearned runs.
In the Lady Falcons’ seventh, they scored all four runs with no outs, capping the rally with Andrea Means’ three-run homer.
“I knew A-C Valley would be tough and they have a nice team,” Sayers added. “It wasn’t a great team to open with, but we pulled it out. We have to get better defensively, but we’re inexperienced in some positions. Overall, it was a good performance.”