Hillsdale College recently announced the hiring of a new head softball coach, Kyle Gross, on Aug. 27. Gross replaces Joe Abraham, who was hired to be the head coach at the University of Toledo last month.
Gross said he was elated once he was offered the position. The high standards set by the school and the program motivated Gross to accept the new position.
“I knew that I would be stepping into a quality program,” he said.
Director of Athletics Don Brubacher said he is confident Gross understands the mission of Hillsdale College and will contribute strongly to its goals.
“Gross has the reputation as an outstanding teacher of the game and experience in the management of a college softball program,” Brubacher said. “In general, we believe the program will continue to provide a great experience for our student-athletes and also produce competitive success under Coach Gross’s leadership.”
Before his hiring at Hillsdale, Gross served as an assistant coach at two NCAA Division I programs: Presbyterian College and Kent State University. He also served as the interim coach at the University of Toledo during the 2013 – 14 season. Earlier in his career, Gross spent time coaching at Walsh University and Heath City High School in Ohio.
Gross also spent six years as a hitting instructor for former U.S. Olympian Crystl Bustos’s softball camps. He also officiated softball at high school and Division I college levels.
Junior outfielder Sam Catron said she could tell from her first impression of Gross that he is a leader capable of promoting the winning culture embodied by Chargers softball.
“He has a great knowledge of the game and will help us to carry on the legacy of Hillsdale softball,” Catron said. “He is focused on softball, but he’s also focused on building those family-type relationships, which is what our team is all about.”
With this being his first permanent full-time head coaching position, Gross said one of his main goals will be to improve as a leader throughout the season and to help the team grow every year.
He said he hopes to aid the team’s success by focusing on consistency and making small improvements in areas where the team already excels. He also sees room for growth.
“Although this team did hit a very large amount of doubles this past year, they were low in production of home runs,” Gross said. “There’s a potential for home run hitters on this roster, so maybe we can unlock some of that power.”
Gross also said he will take a very aggressive approach to baserunning, capitalizing on his new team’s athleticism. In the field, the Chargers produced defensive numbers that ranked in the upper half of the conference last season; however, Gross said he will be looking to improve those numbers.
Sophomore infielder Madison Rathbun said she is eager to start the season and build team unity under Gross’s leadership.
“I think his skill set, combined with the environment and the team mindset he is working to establish, will take us to a level we’ve never been before both mentally and physically,” Rathbun said.
Gross will lead the Chargers in their first fall game on Sept. 23 when they play the Bowling Green State University Falcons. The game will give the Chargers an opportunity to compete with a Division I program to begin the season.