As a softball player at Northview High School and later at Shelton State and at Troy, Kate Benton was known for playing aggressive, hard-nosed and with passion.
Now as Kate Stump, she will take those qualities into her new role as Enterprise softball head coach.
Stump was officially hired by the Enterprise Board of Education as the head coach Thursday night. She had been an assistant coach the last three years for the Wildcats under Mollie Mitchell, who resigned last month.
“I am beyond excited,” Stump said. “First and foremost, I am very thankful for the opportunity.”
In her two playing years at Troy, Stump finished with a .364 batting average, tops in Trojan history, with 95 runs scored and 67 steals. She earned 41 steals in 2016, a school record, and also finished with 52 runs scored, second most in program history. She also earned an on-base percentage of .468, fifth best in school history.
A second baseman, she earned All-Belt Conference honors while playing at Troy.
Prior to that, she finished her playing days at Shelton State with that school’s single-season and career records in hits, runs scored, stolen bases and batting average, while earning NJCAA All-American honors in both 2013 (third team) and 2014 (first team). She was the Alabama Community College Conference MVP in 2014.
In high school, she set Northview school records at the time for career highest batting average, in runs scored and for stolen bases in earning all-state accolades.
Her style of play is one she hopes will eventually be a trademark at Enterprise.
“The biggest thing is I want Enterprise softball to be known for is their grit, their fight and how they play the game,” Stump said. “Those are things I want to instill in them. If you give this team everything you have, it will repay you. If you play the game right, it will repay you. If you do it right, that involves having grit and having fight.”
It’s a style she said was cultivated in her by many, including her family, her high school coach at Northview, Jessica Noble, along with Shelton State head coach Buddy Boyle and Troy head coach Beth Mullins.
“All those played a huge role in who I am and how I think,” Stump said.
Trying to play havoc on the base paths – similar to how she did at Northview and in college -- is part of her plan at Enterprise.
“I think we can turn around and make some immediate change on the base paths,” Stump said. “I was an aggressive player. I think we have the tools and advantages on our team to make us an aggressive team whether it is on the base paths or on defense. That is something that we have to work on in the next couple of months and when we start practice in late January.
“I do plan to incorporate some more aggressive base running.”
Stump takes over a program that struggled last year, finishing 14-28.
“Last year, we took some hits and bruises and these girls needed a little something different, a little pick-me-up where they know how to make it through certain situations like they were put in last year,” Stump said. “Last year was a growing opportunity for them and we have learned what needs to be changed. I think our mentality is one of those.”
Enterprise athletic director Trent Trawick said he believes the Wildcats found the right person to lead the softball program.
“Coach Stump is an outstanding person and outstanding coach,” Trawick said. “She has been with us for a couple of years as an assistant. We felt like when coach Mitchell resigned and moved off that we didn’t need to look very far because of the kind of the person and kind of coach she is. We are extremely excited and look forward to the future in softball.”
Though she was just officially hired Thursday, Stump was named interim head coach last month and has been busying with the players since that promotion.
“We have been working three days a week,” Stump said. “The biggest thing we are trying to incorporate is a stronger mentality. We are pushing these girls to their limits and they are coming out stronger than I expected. So everything is going good so far.”
It was a quick ascent to a head coaching job for Stump, who began coaching in 2016 after graduating from Troy.
“I am super blessed. I never thought at 25 years old that I would be sitting in this seat now, but I couldn’t be more grateful,” Stump said. “I am a super blessed to have this opportunity.”