Olivet Nazarene Baseball catcher Ben Hill (SR/Grand Rapids, Mich.) was chosen to be part of the NAIA Preseason All-American Team. He is one of 17 members selected by a committee of the NAIA-Baseball Coaches Association.
Hill’s formidable stat sheet certainly fits the bill of an All-American honoree. In 2017, he led the team in a range of categories, including a .427 average, 70 hits, and a .622 slugging percentage, all in addition to a 17-game hit streak—the fourth longest in ONU history. Given this history, it is no surprise that the six preseason games that he has played so far have yielded similarly impressive results: a .500 average with five extra-base hits, 14 total bases, 9 RBIs, .875 slugging percentage, and .500 OBP.
In addition to leading by example athletically, other players like R.W. Rienow (SO/Wheaton, Ill.) have benefitted from his leadership in other ways.
“A couple times Hill has pulled me aside,” Rienow said. “He would say things like, ’Hey, look for this.’ or ‘This pitcher seems to be throwing this pitch often,’ when you’re at two strikes. Just sort of looking out for me as an underclassman and trying to help me be the best that I can be.”
“Hill has great poise as a player,” head baseball coach, Todd Reid said. “And other younger players see that; they see the approach he takes every at-bat, the relationship he has with his pitchers as a catcher, and even the relationship he has with the umpires.”
Off the field, Ben still strives to work conscientiously through internships and classwork. Hill described learning from his mistakes as an underclassman.
“My freshman year I really struggled in the classroom,” Hill said. “I kind of learned the hard way that your academics are a lot more important. Baseball obviously comes second; it’s going to come to an end someday.”
Ben is currently pursuing a double-major in Business Administration and Marketing and hopes to lead the team—along with its eight seniors—to a conference championship in the Spring.
ONU Baseball will officially resume its season on February 16, 2017 in a series against Bethel University.