READING — Medfield junior Kaelyn Larkin went into her timeout in the final round of the A Shot For Life Softball Home Run Derby needing 11 more homers in the final two-and-a-half minutes to claim her second straight crown.
What followed was an explosive performance from Larkin, who hit her 16th, and final, home run with 57 seconds remaining in her four-minute round to beat Taunton’s Ava Venturelli and repeat as champion Sunday night at Austin Prep.
During the timeout, Larkin’s father, Garrett, who has pitched for both her titles, helped her focus on her mechanics to produce more power in her swing, with the fence pushed back for the finals.
“He was just telling me to use my legs,” Larkin said. “Try to get into a good rhythm, cause that’s when you get on fire.”
Larkin hit 32 homers in the first round, the highest total of the round. She only needed 11 more to win her head-to-head matchup in the second round against Attleboro’s Lauren Eby, and she did so in just a minute and 21 seconds. Her 16 homers in the final bested finalists Venturelli, Kylie Doherty of Nashoba, and Kelly Colleran of North Attleboro.
A Shot For Life raised more than $80,000 for cancer research and awareness during two days of baseball and softball events, according to A Shot For Life founder Mike Slonina. Last year, the event raised $43,000.
Both days featured a home run derby and, for the first time, a pitcher’s challenge. Walpole’s Sharlotte Stazinski won the softball pitcher’s challenge Sunday afternoon.
“This has been a really long vision that has been coming together, so that is really special to see,” said Slonina, who founded A Shot For Life in 2010.
Larkin raised $1,525 in her second year competing. A Boston Globe All-Scholastic honorable mention, Larkin said she’s made a little “home run derby family” doing the event for the past two years.
“I think it’s a great cause and I love how everyone is here to support each other,” she said. “It’s a great time. I like coming here. I look forward to it every year.”
Slonina said this has been the biggest year of growth in the organization’s history. He plans to hold soccer and football events in Massachusetts this year, as well as one other sport. The organization has also expanded to Rhode Island, where they will hold a basketball event for the first time.
“You don’t really get to enjoy the events because you’re so stressed out and you want to make sure everyone’s happy and everything goes well,” Slonina said. “When I’m sitting at home tonight, that’s when the really good feeling comes of ‘Wow, this thing is really starting to make massive progress.’ ”