Sep. 30—For Mike Diller, taking over Greenup County's softball program is more than just adding another piece to his 63rd District coaching bingo card.
"Everybody wants to go back to their alma mater, you know?" the 1984 Musketeers graduate said. "Everybody wants to go back home and try to build something. That's where I'm at right now."
Diller, hired as Greenup County's new coach in mid-September, has been around the 63rd District. He was Lewis County's skipper from 2018-19 and an assistant at Raceland before and after his time in Vanceburg.
As such, he is well familiar with the strength of the district. To wit, the Lions and Rams met in last year's 16th Region Tournament championship game, and Lewis County went to the state semifinals in 2020.
Russell has also long been regarded among the region's top programs.
The Musketeers don't have to take a back seat to any of them, Diller said.
"I want our girls to know they can compete with them now," he said. "The talent I've seen so far, over the few open fields we've had, we do have some kids and some pitching and some offense. I think, we get better on the defensive side of it, we're gonna be right there along with them."
Greenup County went 8-17 last year under Jeani Gollihue, who stepped away as bench boss in midseason, and Seth Miller, who concluded the campaign as interim coach. The year before, though, Gollihue's Musketeers were 16-9.
Both of those seasons ended in the district tournament semifinals at the hands of eventual region finalists.
"There's always hiccups along the way, but, you know, everybody in the 63rd District, those programs are really good programs," Diller said. "We know we're in for a dogfight out of the district every year, and we're just hoping to build some consistency to where we're actually in that talk."
Diller had left Lewis County by the time it began dominating the 16th Region, but he helped set the Lions onto that path. His 2019 club was at the time the school's winningest ever at 22-11.
That year, Lewis County won the district tournament for the first time since joining the 63rd District 14 years earlier, and the Lions went to the region tournament for the first time in 11 years.
Diller was named the Kentucky Softball Coaches Association 16th Region Coach of the Year in 2019 as a result.
Diller also managed the 2010 Stan Spence Little League All-Stars 11- and 12-year-olds to an undefeated run through the state tournament.
"Greenup is excited for the future of its softball program," Musketeers athletic director Matt Thompson said. "We are happy to welcome coach Diller back home. We have an awesome group of girls and look forward to watching them grow under coach Diller's leadership."
Diller, who turns 56 in October, works at HWI in South Shore. He is married to Lora and has two adult daughters — Kelsey and Laiken Stephenson.
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