NEFFSVILLE — The first one was adrenaline; the last one, simply consistency.
On the day she would garner her 500th career strikeout from her customary spot in the pitcher’s circle, Manheim Township senior Reilly Gearhart smoked two homeruns, the latter a run-rule walk-off in the bottom of the fifth inning, in Saturday’s 10-0 win over Conestoga Valley.
Needing five strikeouts coming into the contest in order to reach the pitching milestone, Gearhart struck-out three batters in the first two innings before her teammates tallied a four-run bottom of the second for a commanding early lead.
Upon allowing a hit to Karla Munoz in the top of the fourth inning, Gearhart educed a pop-up to second base, then struck-out Michele Lopez on a changeup and Makayla Horning on a wicked rise-ball for number 500.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Gearhart, who will take her talents to La Salle University next year. “I’m just so happy. It’s really a big accomplishment for me with high school. I don’t think we’ve ever had any pitcher accomplish that before (at Township).”
Also serving as the Blue Streaks’ leadoff batter, Gearhart launched her first homerun in the bottom of the fourth, a line shot over the centerfield fence, to score Andrea Acosta (1-for-3, 2R) and take a 6-0 lead.
“I had a lot of adrenaline after the 500th strikeout. My first two at-bats weren’t that good so I knew I had to come out and do something,” said Gearhart, who with the two homeruns has now tallied 132 hits in her career.
Township would add two more runs in the inning, aided by a double off the bat of Mikayla Brennan (2-for-3, 2R) and an RBI single from Carolyn Kitsock.
“Pretty much as long as she gets started with her hitting the rest of the team sort of follows suit,” said head coach Jennifer Breton on her senior leader. “Her positive attitude, everybody feeds off of it, it’s amazing.”
Gearhart’s second homerun came with Rachel Devenney on board, finding the netting in front of the scoreboard just right of centerfield, for the walk-off win.
Of the ten runs CV pitcher Alexia Trott allowed, just the ones coming off of Gearhart’s bat were earned as the Buckskins (3-9 overall, 2-7 Section Two) finished with a trio of errors.
The victory ups Township’s record to 5-8 overall and 3-6 in Section One. But with a final go-round in Section One looming in the next two weeks, Gearhart and her teammates are set on having fun.
“I think this was big for us,” Breton said. “We’re finally coming together as a team and (the players) understand the capabilities of their teammates, so that really feeds into it and it pushes us into this next week. And the following week is going to be jam-packed.”
Which is why it’ll help having Gearhart’s bat in the lineup. And her arm in the circle. And her voice in the dugout.
“She always encourages the younger girls,” Breton said on Gearhart’s value on a relatively inexperienced squad. “I think it’s mostly her positive attitude and the fact that the girls really rely on her thoughts.”
“We’re just trying to have fun, going out there and make the best of it,” Gearhart said. “Today was good for us I think. Hopefully this will push us on.”
Manheim Township 10, Conestoga Valley 0 (F/5)
CV 0 0 0 0 0 — 00 02 3
MT 0 4 0 4 2 — 10 08 1
SO-BB — CV Alexia Trott 3-3; MT Reilly Gearhart 6-0
WP — Gearhart; LP — Trott
2B — MT 1 (Mikayla Brennan)
HR — MT 2 (Reilly Gearhart 2)