There was no time like the present for Kyla Hardy.
In the eighth inning of Valencia’s game against Saugus, Hardy sent a ball flying over the left field fence for a grand slam, her first home run of the season, in the Vikings’ 5-1 victory at Saugus High on Thursday.
The victory means Valencia (20-7 overall, 8-0 in Foothill) clinches the Foothill League title outright against a Saugus squad they split the 2016 title with.
The four-run swing came one inning after a miscue from Hardy in the bottom of the seventh inning allowed Saugus (14-12, 4-4) to scratch across a run to send the game to extras.
“What a time (for her first home run),” said Valencia coach Donna Lee. “She was down on herself for making the error. I told her this happens for a reason. Embrace it.”
Down to its final three outs in the seventh, Saugus leadoff hitter Cassidy Fitzgerald reached second on a throwing error and came around to score later in the inning when Hardy misplayed Maya Avila’s two-out grounder.
“I felt pressure on myself to make it up,” Hardy said of the error and subsequent grand slam. “I didn’t charge it and it took a bad hop and hit off my glove.”
Vikings starting pitcher Shea O’Leary went right back to work in the bottom of the eighth, striking out the final two batters of the game and stranding Libbie McMahan at first to secure the title.
“The first inning I was a little shaky,” O’Leary said. “But then I got into the game, and I was humming the ball.”
O’Leary picked up the complete game win, striking out 11 with no walks and one run allowed.
Saugus starter Leslie Reynaga held her own, allowing just one run in seven innings on an RBI double from Kelia Paragas before things got away in the eighth.
“We hit the ball hard right at people,” said Saugus coach Julie Archer. “I was proud of the team to come back in the seventh.”
In the eighth, the Vikings leadoff batter reached first on an error from Reynaga.
With Ally Shipman up to bat, Archer called for the intentional walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. It was Shipman’s fourth walk of the game.
Paragas moved up both runners on a single to center before Hardy’s blast to left.
Hart 10, West Ranch 3
Andrea Cespedes went 3-for-3 for the Indians (14-11, 3-5), while Kylie Norwood was 3-for-5.
Adrienne Chang was 2-for-3 for West Ranch (10-15, 3-5).
Canyon 1, Golden Valley 0
The Cowboys (12-12-1, 3-5) won when a dropped third strike allowed a Canyon runner to score from second. Golden Valley is 12-11 and 3-5.
Jessica Goodspeed pitched a complete-game shutout.