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BREAKING OUT: Redbank Valley sophomore Braylee Yeany Off to Hot Start at the Plate in Move to a New Position

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — When Braylee Yeany climbs in the saddle of her horse, Maple, and rides, she is filled with calm and serenity.

It’s nothing like what she feels when she is crouching behind the plate as a catcher, or digging into the batter’s box and squeezing the bat handle tightly for the Redbank Valley softball team.

Yeany’s two favorite activities couldn’t be more dissimilar.

“It’s just nice and relaxing when I ride,” Yeany said. “It helps clear my mind.”

But on the softball field, that calm morphs into competitive fire.

Her play on the softball field is anything but serene. Yeany has become a storm on the field and with the bat, and the sophomore is off to a hot start for the Bulldogs.

Yeany switched to catcher this season after being predominantly an outfielder and she has settled in nicely at that position.

She’s also producing offensively, batting .500 with a home run, two doubles and eight RBIs already in four games. She’s already knocked in more runs than she did all of last year as a freshman when she hit .200 with a pair of doubles and five RBIs in 20 games.

Her homer on Wednesday was the first of her career.

“It felts so good. I was really surprised that I hit it out,” Yeany said. “I’m really happy with how I’ve started this year.”

It’s no accident Yeany is starting the year at a torrid pace.

Wanting to have a breakout season in her second year, Yeany spent all offseason working on her swing in the batting cage and off the tee.

The goal: be more consistent with her swing and drive the ball more.

So far, so good.

“I was hoping to get a higher batting average,” Yeany said. “I worked a lot on my hand path to the ball, trying to get a quicker swing and watching the ball. Things like that.”

The time worked.

She also knew she would take on the challenging position of catcher and went to work on developing those skills, too.

Yeany had some experience behind the plate. She was a catcher during her Little League days.

Yeany said the learning curve is still steep.

“I’m somewhat familiar with it, so that helped,” she said. “I really worked hard in the offseason. Probably the blocking was the hardest. I’ve definitely gotten a lot better at it. I need to work more on my throw downs, building up my arm strength.”

Yeany is confident that will come with more game behind the plate.

Redbank Valley has a young team with sophomores like Yeany filling some key roles.

The weather and the early season gruelling schedule has the Bulldogs off to a 1-3 start, but Redbank got out of the gate slowly last season, too, but got hot as the weather did and finished the regular season 10-9 to make the playoffs.

The Bulldogs are hoping for a repeat of that surge.

Yeany started the season in the leadoff spot, but moved down to the No. 2 in the order in the 13-5 win over Keystone on Wednesday. Sophomore Bella Orr hit leadoff.

Yeany certainly has shown the skills to bat at the top of the order.

She has been playing softball since she was six and it’s always been one of her passions.

So has horses.

When Yeany isn’t working on her softball game, she is usually with her two horses, either riding or taking care of them.

She hopes to take her riding to the competitive level one day.

“It takes money,” Yeany said. “And a lot of practice. Now I’m just riding for fun, but my hope is to do competitions and shows and things like that.”

For now, Yeany wants to help Redbank Valley win.

“I’ve been playing softball for basically my whole life,” she said. “My dad really got me into it. I just want to hit for a higher batting average and become a better catcher.”