ABINGDON, Va. – Hannah Light Cress began pitching at age eight. After a standout career as a player at the former Coeburn High School and King University, Cress is now sharing her knowledge with a gifted new pupil.

“It really is a dream,” John Battle junior pitcher Madison Hill said. “Coach Cress has a lot of experience, and I want to continually learn from her.”

One game after throwing a no-hitter, Hill allowed just one hit Thursday en route to an 11-3 win over the Abingdon Falcons.

That lone Abingdon hit came with two outs in the bottom of the seventh when No. 3 batter Ashli Linkous lofted a fly ball which landed in the outfield.

While some Battle fans groaned when the ball dropped, Hill showed no emotion after coming just short of her third no-hitter of the season.

“I don’t keep track of that,” Hill said. “I just play the game I love. But I am overjoyed when my teammates and coaches tell me good news.”

The news was all good for John Battle (10-2) Thursday. Logan Leonard led the 10-hit attack with three singles while Hill supplied a pair of run-scoring singles, leadoff batter Haylee Dye collected two hits and Hanna Jo McReynolds boomed a two-run home run in the first inning.

“That type of offense always helps,” Hill said. “I feel like our hitting has gotten better as the season has gone along.”

Dye (.462) and McReynolds (.455) lead Battle in hitting while Deel, Leonard and Emma Harmon are all hitting above .400.

Cress was familiar with the Trojans before she accepted her new task.

“I’ve coached against these kids for three years, but I think their morale and the program is little different this season,” said Cress of her job as Wise County Central pitching coach. “They’re playing hard and working hard, and they have just really grasped everything that I’ve throw at them.”

According to Cress, Hill has one essential quality of a star student.

“She listens,” Cress said. “Madison also keeps an upbeat attitude. When you have a pitcher like that in the circle, your whole team is going to play behind her. Madison just wants to be the best, and that helps a lot.”

Relying on a fastball, curveball and change-up, Hill smartly worked the corners against the AHS lineup.

“Coach Cress has definitely taught me to hit my spots,” said Hill, who refrained from utilizing her rise-ball Thursday. “Now that I can do that, I’m able to keep my speed up as well.

The only losses for Battle came last weekend against Wheelersburg, Ohio, and Woodford, Kentucky, in a Kentucky tournament. Both teams were ranked among the top teams state-wide in their respective classes.

“We’re winning games and doing things the right way. That’s always fun,” Cress said.

Abingdon coach Teena Main held a lengthy meeting with her players after the game and was not available at press time.

The Falcons (6-4, 3-2) were hampered by eight errors. Katie Harless did make a couple of running catches in center field while the experienced Linkous struck out seven.

Hill, who has pitched every game except one for Battle, has 109 strikeouts on the season and a 0.944 earned run average.

Cress is confident that her new student will continue to prosper with more teaching.

“We’re trusting each other. That’s a huge part of the process,” Cress said.

agregory@bristolnews.com | Twitter: @Greg_BHCSports | (276) 645-2544

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