As soon as she stepped foot on campus, Autumn Hill knew Roanoke College was the place for her. On Thursday, the Carroll County senior made it official, signing a letter of intent to play softball for the Maroons.
“I went to one of their camps last year in the winter and I absolutely loved it. The coaches were really easy to talk to, they seemed really nice, and the campus is beautiful,” Hill said. “I pretty much knew I wanted to go to Roanoke from the start when I went to that camp. There was nowhere else I wanted to be.”
Roanoke College head coach Mike Mitchell said the feeling was mutual as soon as his coaching staff got a look at the Cavaliers’ first baseman.
“She came to one of our camps and she just blew us away,” Mitchell said. “What really attracted us was her bat speed, her ability to hit the ball and her ability to play multiple positions. She is a good outfielder and a good infielder. Both of our first basemen are graduating and we are losing two spots in the outfield, so we really need to bring in players to fill in those holes. She has a great upside and great attitude about her.”
Certainly, Hill has proven her ability to do all those things in her four-year varsity career at Carroll County. Boasting a huge bat from day one, Hill led the Cavaliers in batting average (.524), hits (33), doubles (11), home runs (4), slugging percentage (.921) and RBIs (19) as a freshman to earn second-team All-Southwest District honors.
She followed that up with another second-team all-district performance as a sophomore when she hit .369 with two homers, four triples, eight doubles and 14 RBIs. Last year she batted .371 with 7 RBIs and six doubles, and earned first-team all-district accolades after an equally impressive performance with her glove. Hill did not have any errors last season in 104 chances.
“Defensively she played the entire year at first base with no errors,” Carroll County head coach Rick Nester said. “That is a position where you have to make a lot of plays.”
After two games, Hill hasn’t committed an error this season. She’s also been tearing it up at the plate, batting .556 with five hits, a home run, three doubles and 5 RBIs.
“She has real good power. From center to left, she puts the ball in play. And the faster the pitching, she hits better pitching,” Nester said. “And her work ethic, you don’t have to ask her to do stuff. She does it on her own. Batting, she works on it after practices here, and she goes with (Ed) Goodson up at Grayson and works on it there. It is a joy to have kids like that as a coach.”
While Hill has had four different head coaches in her four seasons of varsity softball, she’s worked with former Major Leaguer Ed Goodson since she was nine years old. Goodson, who played for San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1970-77, said Hill has all the tools to succeed in college.
“She will do great. She works so hard and she has the talent. She will be very successful at the next level,” Goodson said. “I haven’t seen anybody work as hard as Autumn. She is just a good person.”
“Mr. Goodson has helped me a whole lot,” Hill said. “I definitely give him all the credit for my swing and my bat.”
Hill will be stepping into a great situation with the powerful Roanoke College program next season. Last year the Maroons went 35-11 and finished fourth in the country after winning the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship and the Newport News Regional title to earn the programs’ eighth NCAA Tournament bid before advancing to the Division III World Series. All but two players are back from that team this year, but the Maroons will graduate several seniors at the end of this season.
“They went to the D-III World Series last year and did really well,” Hill said. “I hope I can go there and we can do it again. I am really excited.”
Mitchell certainly thinks Hill is the type of player that can help Roanoke College stay near the top of the Division III softball world.
“She has good power and we are excited about her coming to Roanoke,” Mitchell said. “She has good grades and she is going to be real successful at Roanoke. You couldn’t ask for a better one. She is the exact type of player we look for - very coachable and from a great family.”