Pitcher to watch
By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Breanne Hill is the best pitcher in Pasco County not named Christine Beck, the defending Times and Sunshine Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
Hill, a junior, also is Ridgewood's ace for the third straight season.
On Feb. 12, Hill showed why Rams coach Greg Bollinger tabbed her as the second-best pitcher in the county by striking out 15, walking one and limiting Pasco to four hits in a 4-2 win.
With former Ridgewood pitchers Brandy Krieg and Bethann Blankenship lost to graduation, Hill is the only experienced pitcher on the staff.
"I don't think there's any more pressure on her," Bollinger said. "She gets upset if she gives up any runs anyway.
"I have a younger brother and sister, so I'm used to people looking up to me," Hill said.
As a freshman, Hill went 6-3 with a paltry 0.98 ERA. Last season, she was 12-4 with a 1.13 ERA and 130 strikeouts. Hill was even more stingy when it came to facing Sunshine Athletic Conference foes -- 7-1 with a 1.06 ERA.
Bollinger said his team's most experienced pitcher "should keep us in most games."
When not pitching, Hill plays second base or third base for Ridgewood and bats third.
Though she slumped to a .213 average with 10 RBIs last season, Bollinger expects Hill to return to the form that saw her hit .370 as a freshman.
"She moves the ball. She doesn't strike out a lot," Bollinger said.
Setting her single-game high for strikeouts against Pasco was especially rewarding for Hill since it came against coach Ray Carver, who privately tutors Hill.
"It was weird playing him," Hill said of Carver. "He said, "Good job' when we shook hands."
Hill had quite a repertoire -- fastball, changeup, drop and riser -- before she started working with Carver in the fall. Now, Hill said she can throw two variations of each pitch as well as a screwball.
Having such a variety of pitches, she said, "will take stress off my arm."
Playing club ball in the offseason with the Clearwater Bullets, as well as four previous years with the Suncoast Outlaws and West Pasco Strikeforce, have enabled Hill to improve her game.
"It's brought me up to the next level," Hill said. "It's pushed me more."
Hill also got a little push from her father, Kevin, who recalled the first time he played catch with his daughter.
"My wife signed her up for softball (at age 8), so I took her out to play catch," Kevin Hill said. "I threw the ball to her and she moved the glove, and it hit her right in the forehead. She cried and went in the house, but we went right back out."
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