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OUT OF RETIREMENT: Izzy Bond Returns to Softball Field After Long Hiatus, Finds Her Niche With Redbank Valley

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — The doubts were piling up as fast as the outs.

Redbank Valley senior Izzy Bond, who had been away from the softball diamond for four years, was second-guessing her return.

“I struggled — a lot. I got frustrated pretty fast,” Bond said. “There were definitely times when I thought about quitting. Of course, when you get in your head like that, you just want it to be done. But there was an overwhelming amount of support from my coaches and teammates. They were cheering me on. They were telling me to stick it out, you’re gonna have a good season.”

Bond started the year in a 2-for-9 funk. But then at home against Keystone, she broke out of her slump, hitting a home run to go with a single and two runs scored during a 2-for-4 day.

Bond has only gone hitless in one game since and has raised her average to .400 with a homer, three doubles, a triple, 10 runs scored and nine RBIs.

She went 2-for-2 with a triple and scored a pair of runs in an 8-6 win over Forest on Thursday afternoon. 

Bond has had three consecutive multi-hit games and has had at least two hits in five of her last six games. She’s batting .500 during that stretch.

“I’m definitely happy,” she said. “The support I got from my teammates and coaches — they just helped me so much. They told me to never give up when I was struggling at the beginning. They really kept me in it and that’s another reason I’m doing so well right now.”

The home run was a turning point for Bond.

And also pretty surprising.

“It was really exciting,” Bond said. “I was watching it go over the fence and I was like, ‘I actually hit a home run.’ I was shocked. I was like, ‘There’s no way I just did that.’”

Bond did. And she felt as though she were finally back.

Softball had always been a love of hers since she started playing in the third grade.

But Bond also had another passion — basketball — nurtured by watching old Chicago Bulls’ games. She adopted the No. 23 on the court in honor of Michael Jordan, but crafted her hoop game in the mold of one of Jordan’s most notorious teammates, Dennis Rodman.

Bond had a big senior basketball campaign for Redbank Valley, doing yeoman’s work as her younger sister, Addy Bond, and Mylee Harmon, piled up the points.

Bond averaged 7.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and also added 49 steals and 25 blocked shots. She was a thorn in every opponent’s side, doing all that dirty work that made Rodman famous. That role suited the competitive and tough Bond well.

She was also a standout volleyball player for the Bulldogs.

For the last three years, Bond opted to do track and field in the spring.

“I did track just because I wanted to stay in shape for the upcoming basketball season,” Bond said. “This year I didn’t really have a basketball season to look forward to, so I was like, ‘I might as well come out of retirement and play the sport I’ve loved since I was in the third grade.’”

Bond originally gave up softball because of basketball. And time. She just didn’t have enough of it.

“My freshman summer I started playing AAU basketball in the spring, so I couldn’t do both,” she said. “I did miss it a lot.”

This winter, Bond was still unsure about “coming out of retirement” as she put it to play softball again.

But her desire to give that sport one more go — and some relentless recruiting by several of her classmates — finally tipped the scales.

“I had people from the softball team reaching out saying, ‘Hey, we want you to play,’” Bond said. “They were really, really welcoming. There were coaches who were also texting me. I used to love it so much. I just wanted one more year to play.”

Bond showed up at the end of softball practice late in the basketball season to cement her place on the team.

“There was a month or two left in the basketball season and I actually left a basketball practice and I ran over to the other gym as they were about to clean up,” Bond said. “I was throwing some and was like, ‘Guys, I want to play. This is my first practice.’”

Getting back into softball rhythm proved to be a much bigger challenge.

Bond plays mostly as a flex player — the softball version of a designated hitter — for Redbank Valley.

“Softball is about technique and I definitely lost that over the four years I didn’t play,” she said. “I knew I was gonna have to walk in there and play attention to everything they were telling me. Every little detail. I started working really hard in the batting cage and eventually they put me at basically DH. I’m focusing on one job, mainly hitting, so it made it a lot easier.”

This will probably be Bond’s last season playing sports.

She will attend Duquesne University to study pre-law.

Bond has made it a point to savor every moment in a softball uniform again — where it all started for her.

“It’s really special to me,” Bond said. “It’s kind of cool because this is the sport that I really liked and started my athletic career with when I was eight or something. It really started the whole sports thing for me. Now I’m a senior and I’m ending with the same sport.”