Hitting from left side has turned out all right for Mt. Pleasant leadoff hitter Katie Hutter

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | 12:05 PM

When Katie Hutter was small, she picked up a softball bat for the first time and immediately squared up like a left-handed hitter.

“I was told right away that wasn’t the way to bat,” Hutter said. “But I don’t know, maybe it was meant to be.”

Before she became the senior softball standout at Mt. Pleasant she is today, an 11-year-old Hutter had some guidance from her coach that provided reassurance: Her lefty instincts were on point.

“The first time I met coach Chris (Brunson) and started working with him, he asked, are you right-handed or left-handed?” Hutter said. “I told him right. He said, we’re going to make you a left-handed hitter.”

So, the rest is history? Sort of.

Hutter, a fixture in the Vikings’ lineup since she was a freshman, has been one of the WPIAL’s best hitters over the course of her career. This year is no different.

A WPIAL and PIAA champion last season, Hutter was hitting .593 with a .651 on-base percentage, 32 hits, nine doubles, four triples, four home runs, 28 runs scored and 17 RBIs.

The Vikings won four in a row to even their record at 7-7 and secure a WPIAL playoff spot out of Section 3-3A.

The team started 2-6.

She hit for the cycle in a 16-3 victory over McGuffey. Mt. Pleasant has scored double-digit runs seven times.

Hutter, operating from her normal leadoff spot — Brunson wanted her “in front of the hammers” — has been a key to leading the team back to the contending block. She also is providing leadership for a young team that lists four seniors on the roster.

A slap-hitter in the beginning, Hutter is now a swing-away threat to go gap to gap.

“I knew she was going to be long (tall), and has great hand-eye coordination,” Brunson said. “And she had good speed. I knew she could bat left-handed and be good at it. Every other kid in the universe is righty-righty.

“Katie hoped to see the field as a freshman and worked hard to do her part. 2020 was the covid year. Last year, she gravitated toward our seniors and learned from them. She has become a leader now. When teams play us, they know she can beat them.”

Players like Haylie Brunson, Mary Smithnosky and Courtney Poulich inspired Hutter.

“I learned from them; all six (seniors) were my idols,” she said.

A seasoned travel ball player, Hutter had planned to play at Akron, committing there in the fall of 2020. But a coaching change prompted her to decommit and open her recruiting.

Bowling Green, George Mason and Cal (Pa.) are now in play as possible suitors.

Brunson has toyed with his lineup and defensive positions, and it is producing results.

“We’re clicking again,” the coach said. “I am excited for what lies ahead and to see how we do.”

Compromise and sacrifice have triggered the late-season run. Hutter moved from center field, where she covered plenty of ground during last year’s title runs, to shortstop.

Junior Sophia Smithnosky moved into the pitching circle, and junior Krista Brunson has bounced around from outfield to infield spots.

“Sophia found herself,” Hutter said. “You gotta do what you gotta do to help the team.”

Brunson said Hutter clearly prefers to play the outfield but is making plays at short like she has played the position all her life.

“She bit the bullet,” he said. “She hates it, but she does it.”

They said the same thing about her hitting from the left side.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .


More High School Softball

Trib 10: Baseball power rankings shaken up despite poor week of weather
Leechburg softball team proud to uphold playoff streak
Westmoreland County softball notebook: Southmoreland captures elusive section title
Close games sharpen Greensburg Central Catholic softball for battles ahead
Trib HSSN softball player of the week for May 1, 2023