Rejoice Christian baseball

Senior shortstop and Missouri State signee Cole Hill leads a Rejoice Christian squad that will take aim at a state tournament berth. Owasso Reporter File Photo

Rejoice Christian baseball will venture into uncharted territory in the 2020 season.

The Eagles are competing in district play for the first time as part of District 2A-7, a dynamic that changed how head coach Casey Willis and his staff approached the spring.

“With 2A going to districts this year, managing pitching is even a bigger factor this year,” Willis said. “If you are able to win district, it puts you in a much better position heading into regionals.”

Rejoice won the program’s first two district games with a sweep of Chelsea on March 10 and opened with a 3-1 overall record prior the season’s stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Eagles return a solid nucleus from last year’s squad that finished 18-8 and advanced to the regional finals for a second consecutive season.

Senior and Missouri State signee Cole Hill tallied a team-high .487 batting average along with 31 RBI, 30 runs scored and 23 stolen bases a year ago. Also back in the fold are junior 2B/P Grady James (.296/29 runs/12 stolen bases), senior C/P Zach Hair (.375/22 RBI), junior 1B/C/P Gunner Evans (14 RBI/16 runs) and senior OF/P Kaden Hass, who averaged seven strikeouts per seven innings.

Rejoice also adds transfer senior OF/3B/1B Dyson Auschwitz and junior OF/P Hudson Campbell, who missed all of 2019 due to injury.

Willis said defense and team speed with be a couple of Rejoice’s strengths going into the season while pitching depth and experience level behind his top-end starters are big concerns.