MARCH 18, 2016 LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2016, 8:34 AM
Softball: Passaic Valley’s Hill returns to Little Falls
BY MIKE LAMBERTI
LITTLE FALLS – While it may be 16 seasons since Kathy Hill has coached softball at Passaic Valley, she seems very much back at home.
The former Kathy May, and a one-time standout softball player at Passaic Valley from 1985-1988, is back in Little Falls coaching softball. She led the Hornets as head coach from 1993-1999, including a trip to the 1998 Group 3 championship game in Toms River against Clearview. The team she built then went on to win the Group 3 title in 2000.
Since 1999, Hill has done plenty of coaching, both on the collegiate and high school level. An All-American player at William Paterson University and now a mother of three, Hill has been excited about coaching at Passaic Valley since being named coach early last summer.
Now that practice has officially begun, Hill has been working hard with a group of players eager to learn.
“The kids have been great,” said Hill. “We had a good turnout of players when we started practicing (on March 4). We’ve made the cuts, and now it’s a matter of getting the system in place.”
Passaic Valley’s first scrimmage is set for Friday, March 18, when Hudson Catholic comes to Little Falls for a 4 p.m. contest. The Hornets stay home for scrimmages with Saddle Brook on March 24 at 4 p.m. and Hawthorne on March 26 at 11 a.m. Scrimmages at Indian Hills and home against Glen Rock will close out the preseason. The regular season begins on April 1, when the Hornets visit Wayne Hills at 4 p.m. Passaic Valley’s first home game will be on April 6 versus Lakeland also at 4 p.m.
The offseason conditioning program Hill implemented worked well, but the coach noted that there’s still plenty of work to do before opening day.
“There’s a lot to do, which is why March is so important,” said Hill. “The enthusiasm and intensity are there. Now it’s getting them used to what we, as coaches, are expecting from them.”
The coaching staff will be very familiar for Hill. Kathleen Berthold is the JV coach while Erin Wilks is the freshman coach. Berthold and Wilks were standout players for Passaic Valley under Hill from 1996-1999.
“It’s great having them here,” said Hill. “They both played for me and had success. And they’re a big part of the PV community now, which is so important.”
The coach hopes to name a team captain within the next few weeks.
Passaic Valley had struggled the past few seasons. The Hornets last had a winning campaign in 2013, when the team, led by pitcher Kate Kallert, was 17-7. Success had been a part of the program as Passaic Valley had four-straight winning seasons from 2010-2013 under former coach Chris Canning, who is now working as an assistant at Wayne Valley.
Passaic Valley last appeared in the county championship game 10 years ago and last won the title when Hill was a senior for the Hornets in 1988, marking a second-straight county crown.