Cole Hill of Rejoice Christian

Rejoice Christian senior Cole Hill signs a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Missouri State on Wednesday. Hill is joined by his father, Brad, mother, Elicia, and sister, Alexa. COURTESY

Cole Hill impresses in virtually every measurable category on the baseball field.

The Rejoice Christian senior middle infielder was the team’s top hitter with a .487 batting average. Also a member of Sandlot Sox, Hill flashed a strong arm an infield velocity of 86 mph and a 60-yard dash time of 6.62 seconds, which is faster than the average Major League player.

But one criterion kept many college coaches away from Hill, his height. The multi-sport athlete for the Eagles stands just 5-foot-6.

“It’s been the biggest adversity in my life, in general,” Hill said. “If I had 3-4 more inches, that would be huge…But I wouldn’t be the person I am.”

Hill’s stature did not keep him from signing with Missouri State on Wednesday, Nov. 13. By joining the Bears’ program, Hill became the first Rejoice baseball player to ink with a Division I school.

Hill also had interest from Kansas, Boston College, Northeastern (Mass.) University and Virginia Military Institute.

“They didn’t look at size as an issue,” Hill said of the Springfield-based school. “They just wanted to know if you could play.”

Hill has been a cornerstone of the Rejoice program. As a three-year varsity starter, Hill has been part of the first two district championship teams in school history.

Eagles coach Casey Willis labeled Hill a “baseball junkie.”

“He lives and breathes it,” Willis said. “He’d play baseball every day if he had a chance. He’s that cog that solidifies your offense and defense. He’s that person in the lineup that you don’t have to think about. You know what he’s going to bring every day.”

Willis said Hill’s signing also helps elevate the status of the Rejoice program.

“You don’t get handed a whole lot Division I athlete, especially at a small school,” he said. “To get any scholarship offer is incredible but to get one at the highest level is unbelievable. He proved that if you have the talent and put in the time, coaches will come and find you.”

While baseball has always been his first love, Hill has exceled in other sports. Hill lined up at quarterback for Rejoice in fifth and sixth grade before putting the football pads in favor of a wrestling singlet in junior high. In 2015, Hill posted a 28-1 record and captured the OKWA Novice State Championships at 100 pounds.

As Hill started high school, Eagles head football coach Brent Marley convinced him to return to the gridiron. Hill has played an important role in the passing attack and his 304 receiving yards this season is the second-highest total for the No. 2-ranked team in Class A.

In last week’s regular season finale, Hill, dubbed as the fastest player on the team, set a Rejoice record with a 99-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Riley Walker.

“That was quite the feeling,” Hill said.