Softball has always been a family affair for Bishop O'Connell's Kristy Burch.

When she was 4, her father, Alward Burch, the principal at O'Connell, began teaching Kristy and her older sister Karen the fundamentals of softball.

Last year, Kristy and Karen led O'Connell to its third straight Catholic Girls Athletic Association softball championship.

This spring, even though her sister had graduated, Kristy still led O'Connell to a best-ever record of 21-1 and its fourth CGAA title.

In her second year on varsity, Burch was 17-1 with an 0.38 earned run average. The right-hander, a first-team All-Met selection last season, struck out 171 batters in 111 innings.

Among Burch's more exceptional pitching performances this year were a perfect game against Seton in which she struck out 16 of 18 batters she faced in a game shortened to six innings by the 10-run competition rule, a no-hitter against Park View, a 15-strikeout performance against Pallotti, and a no-hitter against Potomac in which she struckout 17.

"This has definitely been my best year," said Burch. "This year has been a lot of fun for me, although my teammates [jokingly] tell me that I make the game boring and not much fun for them because I do not put the ball in play that much."

Burch, who uses the windmill pitching style, has developed an excellent selection of pitches. The senior throws a fastball, a curveball, a drop, a rise and a change-up. She credits Coach Tom Orndorff, pitching coach Dennis Everett and her father with helping her become a better pitcher.

"Both Coach Orndorff and Coach Everett taught me a lot," she said. "When I was at the junior varsity level, Coach Everett taught me how to throw the curve and the drop."

"She is definitely one of the best pitchers on the East Coast," said Orndorff. "If we are able to get Kristy at least two runs, we will usually walk away with a victory.

"In softball, an excellent pitcher can dominate a game by herself. Kristy definitely qualifies as an excellent pitcher."

Burch also was productive at the plate, batting .359 with six runs batted in in the usually unproductive ninth spot in the batting order.

This summer, Burch will be playing for the Vienna Shamrocks in the Junior Olympic Amateur Softball Association for fast-pitch teams. The Shamrocks are a select softball team of area players from local high schools that will play other teams around Virginia, with the tournament winner and runner-up going to the nationals in San Antonio, Texas.

Last summer, Burch and her sister led the Shamrocks to the regional title before losing in the nationals in Boulder, Colo.

Like her sister, Burch will attend the Miami (Ohio) University on a softball scholarship. Her sister Karen was the starting shortstop for the Redskins this spring. "The school's location, along with the chance to again play on the same team as my sister, made the choice an easy one," said Burch.