(Hillsdale Ath­letics | Courtesy)

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.