Ending one career, beginning another

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By Tommie Kendall

Sports Editor 

Watching from the sideline, Jon Kasten has seen Kaitlyn Foree throw thousands of pitches in a Henry County uniform. Strikes, balls and everything between. Kasten in the dugout and Foree in the pitcher’s circle — the way it’s been since Kasten took over the head coaching duties in 2004 and Foree moved into the spotlight as the team’s No. 1 pitcher in 2006.

Kasten and Foree have led the Ladycats to three North Central Kentucky Conference championships, two 31st District titles and all the way to the team’s first appearance in the semifinals of the 8th Region tournament. In just a few weeks, it will be a last for the pair that goes back six years. Foree will walk off the HCHS field for the final time and the duo will officially be separated.

Kasten knows all too well what he’s losing.

“Kaitlyn has tremendous control with her pitches. Her mechanics are almost flawless,” Kasten said of his star pitcher who is also the team’s leader. “She doesn’t try to overpower batters, but she gets them to hit the ball where she wants them to. It says a lot about her maturity level and her knowledge of the game.”

While Kasten will take his place along the sideline next spring, Foree will be in another uniform, playing under the guidance of Michelle Manning at Transylvania University. In Henry County’s cafeteria last week, Foree signed to play for the Pioneers, which will give Transy a bonus but leave a missing piece for the Ladycats.

In the beginning of Kaitlyn Foree’s softball career, while living in Oldham County as a seven-year-old, the youngster didn’t want to play softball. She opted to try her hand, or feet, at soccer.

“I didn’t want to play at first because my older sister played, plus I wanted to play soccer,” Foree remembered with a smile. “I played soccer for one year and I was really bad, so I switched to softball instead.”

It proved to be a smart decision.

From the get-go, Foree played fastpitch softball, which had already overtaken the traditional slowpitch in Oldham County but had yet to fully reach Henry County. When she moved to Henry just before her sixth-grade school year, she got her first taste of the slowpitch version.

“The first time I pitched, while in Oldham County, a line drive was hit back to me that almost broke my jawbone, so I was happy to play slowpitch,” Foree said. “But then, I found it to be really boring so I was glad to go back to fastpitch my second year here. When they started out, nobody had experience in (fastpitch) pitching so I started pitching, which I thought was temporary, but I’ve been pitching ever since.”