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Kettle Run softball off to strong start with veteran pitcher Munda, new coach Hill

Friday, Mar. 22 | By Cody Sealey
Tori Hill took over for Dan Olinger this season as Kettle Run's head softball coach. --Times-Democrat Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Tori Hill is entering her first season as coach of the Kettle Run Cougars softball program, succeeding Dan Olinger.

Hill, 26, takes the helm after serving as KRHS pitching coach last spring. The former Liberty High and Bridgewater College pitcher embodies the spirit of her equally young Cougars team.

“Coach Hill played herself so she brings a college perspective to our team. She shares her knowledge with everyone,” said sophomore Forrest Poland. “We are excited to have her.”

Coaching pitching staffs is not new to Hill but she admits she's happy to have her brother Russ help her with all the aspects of the lineup.

"This has been a big step for me. There are lots of new things now that I have to focus on. I have to be responsible for everyone on the team instead of just pitchers and catchers,” said Hill. “I’m paying close attention to everyone. It is very exciting! I’m super pumped!”

Having her brother as an assistant is a relief, she said. “I am very happy to have my brother on board this season, he will be a huge help,” Hill said.

In her first season as coach, Hill has no intention to stir things up.

“I just want to take a humble approach, nothing to fancy. We have a new team with a couple veterans who have earned their keep,” said Hill.

One of those veterans is star junior pitcher Kaitlin Munda. The left-handed Munda established herself as a dominant presence on the mound last season, helping the Cougars to a 10-7 season.

She is the anchor of the pitching staff and will receive the vast majority of the innings.

“As a junior, this is Kate’s year to shine. We will be working her up all season,” said Hill.

When Munda is unavailable, Hill will turn to freshman Carissa Brizzi, who debuted in Friday's doubleheader against Culpeper.

“Brizzi works her butt off. She is a breaking ball pitcher who keeps the ball down. She has good control of her pitches,” said Hill.

The Cougars got their 2013 season (and Hill's coaching career) off to a perfect start by defeating Spotsylvania 4-2 on March 13 thanks to seven strong innings by Munda.

Kettle Run (2-1) then split with Culpeper Friday, losing 1-0, before exploding for 15 runs and 21 hits to win the second game 15-10.

Junior shortstop Claire Miclat went 4-for-5 with three RBI and a run, while senior centerfielder Michelle Farmer went 3-for-5 with two RBI, two runs and a stolen base.

Munda added three runs, a triple and a stolen base on 3-for-4 hitting, while sophomore second baseman Forrest Poland went 3-for-5 with three runs and an RBI, and sophomore catcher Shelby Stegmaier went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a triple.

Brizzi pitched four innings of relief to get the first win of her career. She also went 3-for-5 at the plate with an RBI and run.

In game one, Munda allowed only one run on six hits and a walk over seven innings, but Poland had the Cougars’ only hit in the loss.

“Munda started both games because we wanted to see more from her. We didn’t think she was done,” said Hill.

“This team is going to go as Kaitlin goes,” said assistant coach Russ Hill. “We wanted to test her longevity.”

“Thank goodness their bats were alive. I was very impressed. They got on each other and were very aggressive,” said Tori Hill.

The heart of the Cougar lineup is very young but very talented. Miclat and Poland will be joined by the sophomore Stegmaier and freshman third baseman Debbie Stuart to form the foundation of the Cougar offense.

“We have a solid group of hitters. It will be interesting how things play out,” said Russ Hill.

The Cougars do not start district play until they face Brentsville on April 12.

A district title is certainly possible in the balanced Evergreen District.

“We have a lot of potential and we have solid hitters. If we can string things together we can be competitive,” said Tori Hill.

“If we keep improving we have a chance at districts,” said Poland.
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