New John Battle softball coach Hannah Light was a star at Coeburn High School before playing at King University.

Hannah Light has seen the game of softball from many different angles, but she’s about to get a new view.

Light was appointed as the new head coach of the John Battle High School Trojans on Monday night, becoming the seventh person to lead the program since it was formed in 1994.

It will be the first head-coaching gig for the 26-year-old, who was a star pitcher at Coeburn High School and King University.

“I’m incredibly blessed to be given the opportunity to lead such an incredible group of girls and to be part of a program that has had many years of success,” Light said.

Light has previously served as an assistant coach at Eastside, Boyd County (Kentucky) and Wise County Central. She spent the last three seasons as Central’s pitching coach.

“We were impressed with her coaching experience and her ability to teach the fundamentals to her players,” said John Battle principal Jimmy King. “We are excited about her leading our softball program.”

Light has plenty of familiarity with the school located off Exit 7 of Interstate 81.

“I played against Battle in high school, I was on the coaching staff [at Eastside] the year [2012] they beat Battle in the state championship game and I’ve coached against them the last three years at Central,” Light said. “I love the grit and passion this team shows. I wanted to step into a program that has kids that love the game as much as I do. The program and its success speak for itself and I hope to continue to build the tradition that has been in place and take a great team and make them even better.”

Light replaces Eric Senter, who went 42-24-1 during his three seasons at the helm of the Trojans. Senter retired shortly after the 2018 season ended, a year in which Battle went 17-7 and lost to Richlands in the semifinals of the Region 2D tournament.

The new leader of the Trojans is one of the most dominant high school softball pitchers Southwest Virginia has ever seen.

She racked up 1,092 strikeouts at now-defunct Coeburn from 2007-2010.

She began her collegiate career at Mars Hill and transferred to King University, where she finished with 71 wins, 21 shutouts and 651 strikeouts in three seasons and was a two-time Conference Carolinas pitcher of the year.

She was still pitching in college when she realized what she wanted to do when her playing days were done.

“Standing alongside of Suzi Atwood [of Eastside] when she won her first state championship in 2012 was the exact moment I knew I wanted to be a high school softball coach,” Light said. “Watching her in action in a different way and being a part of her coaching staff was a new role for me after pitching for her for four years.

“All the hard work I watched her put in all the years I was a member of her team and all the tears we shared together after tough losses made me realize just how special being a head coach was and how great of a coach she was. I hope to have the same impact that she left on me with my players this year and in the future.”

Light’s coach at King, Jenn Testa, is now leading the program at Tennessee High. Battle and THS played during the 2018 season.

“Playing in college was one of the best experiences for me,” Light said. “I realized how much you had to love the game to be a part of something so big, but it taught me so much. Playing under Jennifer Testa and Travis McCall I realized there was more to being a softball coach than just teaching kids the game.

“It was caring for how they performed not only on the field, but off the field as well. I learned so much from both of them my three years at King and I’ve carried many things they taught me as a player into my coaching career.”

Battle will return several starters to the fold this spring and some of the key players were on the Washington County team that competed in the Senior League World Series in 2017.

“I want to instill work ethic, respect and an overall love for the game of softball that they maybe have never experienced before,” Light said. “I want to start a new tradition at Battle this year and I’m hoping that starts on the first day of practice and ends with us winning a lot of softball games.

“I’m beyond ready to jump right in and get things started.”

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