Somehow, the farther south Mikal Hill traveled, the closer he got to playing for his hometown Charlotte 49ers.
A 2011 graduate of Mallard Creek High, Hill made collegiate stops in South Carolina and Florida before transferring to Charlotte for the 2013-14 school year. In his first season as a 49er, Hill has played in 16 of Charlotte’s 17 games, starting in 15.
Hill is leading the 49ers in batting average (.310) and on-base percentage (.365) and is tied with Des Roberts with eight runs scored.
A switch-hitting middle infielder, Hill comes from a baseball family. His father, Chris, played professional minor-league ball, and his brother Alex played at Vance High and UNC Wilmington.
Hill gained notoriety in the Charlotte region, committing to the South Carolina Gamecocks when he was just a sophomore at Mallard Creek. Charlotte had shown an early interest but backed off after he committed to USC.
He had a fine senior season for the Mavericks, batting .445 with three homers and 19 RBIs. But that wasn’t as good as his junior year, when he had hit .566 with seven round-trippers and 39 RBIs.
At South Carolina, Hill realized he would probably get very little playing time for the Gamecocks in the 2012 season, and he thought his sophomore season probably wouldn’t be much better.
He decided to transfer, and the coach at Miami Dade College – a junior college in southern Florida with a reputation for developing pro ballplayers – was quick to contact him.
“I thought, ‘Why not Miami?’ ” said Hill. “I knew they had a great program. They’ve had draft picks come out of there. I thought I could be successful there, so I gave it a shot.”
In two seasons with the Sharks, Hill batted .324, scored 55 runs and stole 18 bases in 21 attempts. By the end of his second year, Hill was interested in playing for an NCAA Division I program again.
Charlotte coach Loren Hibbs said he and his staff monitored Hill’s play at Miami-Dade. Hill said he had offers to transfer to Charlotte and High Point.
“He’s a good athlete,” said Hibbs. “He switch-hits and plays the middle of the field. Any time you get that combination, it’s someone that will pique your interest.”
Hill based his decision on a couple of factors. First, he wanted his parents, Chris and Beverly, to be able watch him play. They had been able to do that only a couple of times when he was in Florida.
Second, Hill already had established friendships with some 49ers players, including Brett Lang, a catcher from Ardrey Kell, and Hunter May, a pitcher from Hopewell. Lang was the most persistent, phoning Hill regularly to help him make his decision.
Another Ardrey Kell product, Ryan Butler, was another junior college transfer at Charlotte. He encouraged Hill to make the same move.
Hill is fitting in well with his new teammates, and said he wishes the 49ers were winning more games but that he is starting to get comfortable at the plate.
Freshman Macy Vonderschmidt has won four straight singles matches for the 49ers women’s tennis team. She won matches last weekend in the fifth flight over opponents from Samford and Alabama-Birmingham. Vonderschmidt improved her record in dual matches to 5-5.
The men’s tennis team entered this week on a three-match winning streak. Charlotte was 8-3 overall before its March 18 home match against Appalachian State. Junior Forrest Edwards has the best singles record on the team: 8-1 in dual matches as the No. 1 seed.
Riley Davenport tied for 12th at the Tiger Invitational on March 10-11. He shot an even-par 216 as Charlotte finished ninth out of 15 teams.