Article Note: Pitcher Katie Kutz trains with pitcher instructor Rita Lynn Gilman and the following article is reprinted with permission from Brentt Eads , President/Executive Editor of Extra Inning Softball.
Right-hander Katie Kutz is a student of noted pitching instructor Rita Lynn Gilman and plays for Patrick Lewis’ powerhouse Georgia Impact Premier 18U travel team and Bishop O’Connell High in Arlington, Virginia coached by Suzy Willemssen and a contender for a conference championship and Virginia state private school title.
“I’ve known Katie since she was 8-years-old,” says Coach Willemsen, who also leads a team in the Glory fastpitch organization, “and her work ethic and attention to detail is unmatched. She is a special athlete plus Katie is just plain fun to be with and a great teammate! She has definitely earned all of the good stuff coming her way. Katie is a top Power 5 recruit who will make an impact wherever she goes.”
Katie was a USA Elite Direct Select All-American at 10U in 2016 and 12U in 2018 and compiled an impressive Allister Index score of 89 in June 2019.
She’s already hit the impressive benchmark of 70 mph in her pitching work with Coach Gilman and has had the opportunity to pitch a significant number of innings against some of the top 18U teams in the country, including the Birmingham Thunderbolts Premier – Rocky, Impact Gold – Jackson, and Athletics – Mercado/Smith (ranked #1 by Extra Innings 18U).
Her varsity high school career got off to a great start on Saturday (after her freshman campaign was eliminated because of COVID) as Katie was one batter away from a perfect game. Recently for her prep team she played first base and went 3-for-4 with six RBIs with a triple.
Coach Gilman is another longtime influence in Katie’s life and can’t say enough about her promising pupil.
“Katie has proved to be one of the best athletes to ever come through my pitching school in my 34 years of teaching,” the instructor begins. “And I had the privilege to teach Lacey Waldrop from the very beginning and she earned 2014 National Player of the Year pitching for Florida State.”
“Since 2015, Katie has shown intense dedication to mastering her pitching skills. She leads most all of my skill measurements in her grade as well as for my entire stable of pitchers. Her exceptional strength was evidenced to me when she could pound out perfect one-armed push-ups as a 10-year-old. As an 8th grader, Katie crushed the grip strength record of all my students including college kids!”
“She has gotten serious with her lifting and nutrition and gets up super early to knock out two-hour workouts and she prepares all her “clean” meals. Even her parents lost weight because of the healthier food around the house!”
Her pitching instructor says that the Virginia sophomore has room to improve even more.
“Kate is driven to keep getting better,” Coach Gilman adds. “Her smooth, quick mechanics plus her strength make the mid 70’s probable, but speed isn’t everything to her. She leads all the “Sniper Challenges” (accuracy contests) at my shop and the smaller the target, the more laser-focused she becomes with every pitch in her repertoire. She can place a filthy changeup and perfectly-spinning drop on the bottom of the strike zone followed by a hopping rise under the hands. And then make them reach for her curve.”
The pitching coach finishes with a prediction based on what she’s seen from other standouts in her three decades-plus of teaching.
“Katie’s rare talent impressed the higher-level travel scene last summer,” finished Coach Gilman. “Her gritty and competitive skill set will fit perfectly with top-level college pitching staffs in three more years of improvement!!”
Here are a dozen facts and insights on the talented ’23 provided by the athlete herself…
#1: Academic All-Star
I love school and have a 4.23 GPA. My favorite classes are art and economics.
#2: Water Bug
Although I don’t yet have my driver’s license, I do have my boating license. We have a lake house and one of my favorite hobbies is driving the jet ski for hours at a time. When the coronavirus hit last year and school went virtual, my parents and I moved to our lake house and I was able to spend countless hours on the Jet ski.
#3: Earlier Riser
I wake up at 3 am every day. Not because I am forced to, but because I want to. I spend this time training, listening to podcasts, doing homework, reading, writing, and more. A lot of people think it is a little crazy; however, I do it because I love the feeling when I am about to go to sleep at night and I know I gave it my all. I don’t have to force myself out of bed, in fact, I usually wake up a few minutes before my alarm. I try to get the most out of the time God gives me and work as hard as I can to develop the skills God gave me.
#4: Podcast Fan
I love listening to podcasts and learning from the best. I recently have been very interested in hearing how some of the most successful people got where they are today. I listen to speeches and podcasts by famous athletes and entrepreneurs.
Some of the people I listen to include: Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins, Elon Musk, and many more. By listening to these people, I have learned so much about hard work, helping others, and getting the most out of the time I have. I also have been able to translate what I have learned into my training, softball, and school.
#5: Future Entrepreneur?
My favorite tv show is Shark Tank.
#6: Health Focused
I am very focused on my diet and nutrition. I cook all my own meals and make sure to fuel my body properly. Along with working with a dietitian, I do my own research on nutrition and fueling. I love to learn how to maximize my performance and overall health through nutrition. I would love to pursue a degree that would allow me to study in the areas of nutrition, exercise, and psychology. I plan to pursue a career path that allows me to help others live a healthier lifestyle both mentally and physically.
Last year I played volleyball as my second sport. I started by playing on the Bishop O’Connell freshman volleyball team in the fall. I then proceeded to play travel volleyball for Virginia United up until the coronavirus shut tournaments down. Although I really liked volleyball, I couldn’t feel the same love and passion for the game like I do for softball.
During quarantine I found my love for weightlifting. Like softball, I love weightlifting because you get out of it what you put in. I love seeing my hard work pay off. As I really got into it, I decided to make weightlifting my “second sport.”
Each of my training sessions is about 2-3 hours long. I spend most of the time on weights and cardio but also spend focused time on stretching and mobility. In addition to working out at home, I work with a trainer 2 days a week. Since I have started weightlifting regularly I have had to learn about the importance of recovery and ways to maximize it. I have been able to maximize it through chiropractic care, massage, cupping, stretching, and eating according to what my body needs.
#8: Auspicious Pitching Start
I started playing T-ball at McLean Little league (MLL) when I was 4 years old. When I was 7 years old, I started pitching at MLL camp and loved it. The next year, when I was 8 years old, I tried out for the Vienna Stars 10u team, coached by Rich Levin.
I made the team but was told that I would not pitch unless I could throw at least 40 mph. Although when I started, I was throwing 33 mph, I worked very hard over the winter and by the end of the year, I was throwing 43 mph and was in the pitching rotation and pitched in some very important games.
Coach Rich loved winning games with his 8U pitcher. During my 9U season, I crossed over 50 mph and helped my team achieve a 43-game winning streak. We won the USSSA East Coast World Series where I was named tournament MVP and offensive player MVP.
#9 The Importance of Rita
I have been working with Rita Lynn Gilman (my pitching coach) since I was 9 years old. My first lesson with her was in November 2014. She gives lessons at her pitching facility, which is located on a 1,000-acre farm in Ashland, Virginia. It is about a two-hour drive away from our home.
One of her cats, Kramer, has been there since I started taking lessons from Rita. He is featured in some of my twitter videos. Rita not only helps me improve my mechanics and velocity, but also helps teach me about the game. Since I was nine, she has been teaching me about counts, situations, the mental part of the game, and more. Many people overlook the importance of the mental side of pitching.
#10 Starting Varsity with a Bang
I play for the Bishop O’Connell High School Varsity softball team. My Coach, Suzy Willemssen, was hired as the new coach starting in 2019, when I was in 8th grade. Coach Suzy also was my first hitting coach when I was 7 years old, so I was very excited when I found out from Suzy that she would be the Varsity Softball coach.
Fast forward to past COVID and the cancellation of high school softball for my entire freshman year, and finally I got to play my first high school game on April 24th, 2021. Our team won, 13-0, and I was one pitch away from a perfect game and hit a home run. I really love my team, which consists of many talented players. I believe we will have a great season!
#11 High-Level Club Ball with the Best
I was given the incredible opportunity to play for the Georgia Impact 18u Premier Lewis team last summer. I was very new to the Georgia Impact organization, but I knew what an honor it was to play on Patrick Lewis’ team.
Coach Patrick made sure I understood that, as a pitcher, moving up to this level of play was going to be an adjustment. I have already learned so much being on this team. Coach Patrick has given me some amazing opportunities to pitch against some of the best teams in the country. I have learned not only from the amazing coaching staff and innings pitched, but also from the other players.
Being on this team has given me the opportunity to play with amazing and dedicated teammates. I look up to and learn from the three other very skilled and hardworking pitchers on my team (Emma Rolfe, Taylor Tinsley, and Lexie Delbrey).
#12 Coaching the Next Generation
I love coaching. One of my favorite things to do is to help grow the game of softball by teaching both the mental and skills aspects to young girls. The last several years I have helped Sabrina Moore, my first pitching coach at McLean Little League, with the McLean Little League softball pitching clinics. Going back and helping McLean Little League to help girls as young as 6-years-old is such a rewarding experience.