12/14/06 — Hill signs with UNC Pembroke

View Archive

Hill signs with UNC Pembroke

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 14, 2006 1:47 PM

Courtney Hill's dream to play college softball is no longer a fantasy.

The Rosewood High senior turned her aspirations into reality late last week. A three-sport letter winner at the Class 1-A Carolina Conference school, Hill officially signed a national letter-of-intent to continue her career at Division II member UNC Pembroke.

An all-Carolina Conference selection last season, Hill courted offers from numerous programs in the Carolinas and Virginia. The versatile 5-foot-10 infielder selected UNCP because of its proximity and its community atmosphere, which reminds her of Rosewood.

Hill is part of a 2007 freshman class that includes fellow North Carolina recruits Carissa Dancer (Hayesville) and Christy Freeland (Enka). The current Braves roster is comprised of just two seniors and 12 underclassmen, including six freshmen.

"He's got high hopes for us," Hill said of fifth-year UNCP head coach Steve Johnson. "I'm excited about it and ready to get out there. I made my decision a couple of days before the early signing period.

"It was tough, but I think I will fit in better and think I made the right decision."

Hill's aspirations to play college softball started when she was eight years old. Endless summers of fielding ground balls, slugging base hits and earning medals with traveling teams fueled Hill's desire to advance to the next level.

She played with the Wayne County Hurricanes for a couple of seasons and participated on the 12U team which is immortalized in the NSA Hall of Fame in Lexington, Ky. That team ended up second in an eight-team World Series and has its photograph hanging in the Hall.

Hill joined the Pitt County Thunder 14U team and advanced to the US Fastpitch World Series in Panama City, Fla. Once her time ended with that group, she began playing in showcase tournaments and receiving attention from college scouts.

Last spring, Hill batted .340 and earned all-Carolina Conference honors as a third baseman/shortstop for the Eagles.

"I can vouch that Courtney can play any position on the field and is an all-around athlete when it comes to softball. She is very talented and very knowledgable about the game and strategy," second-year RHS softball coach Debbie Bailey said. "She's always thinking a play ahead and to me, that's what makes her an outstanding player. That is going to make her an asset to the team at UNC Pembroke."

Hill worked out at third base and shortstop during her official visit to UNCP. Johnson recruited Hill because of her size and strength at the plate, along with her versatility. He's given her a weight-lifting program to follow, which should help her adjust to the speed at the college level.

UNCP finished 23-32 year ago, including a 3-15 worksheet against Peach Belt Conference foes.

"I need to work on my hitting," said Hill, a four-year varsity starter. "I'm more of a power hitter and I guess I just need to make more contact with the ball. I'm more of a selective hitter and (always) get told not to watch the first pitch go by."

Hill, the daughter of J.V. and Nancy Hill, plans to pursue a degree in physical education and coach in high school.

"I think she's a fine example of what a student-athlete is with her leadership in the classroom, leadership on the ball field and her outstanding character," said RHS principal Richard Lewis. "Those things will work to her advantage on the college level as she learns to live on her own, becomes more independent and more responsible for herself.

"She should be able to handle that just fine."