West Jones' Sam Hill (6) delivers a pitch Thursday night in a game against Purvis.

Sam Hill is one of the fortunate ones.

Before the 2020 baseball season, and before COVID-19 flipped spring athletics belly up across Mississippi and the nation, the rising senior standout garnered looks from various colleges and signed with Pearl River Community College.

Many seniors across the state and nation, including a few of his teammates, were counting on the upcoming season to help them get the same opportunity.

"The good thing for Sam is that he'd already signed a scholarship," said West Jones head coach Trey Sutton. "But there were kids out there that had 20-25 games left to prove themselves and maybe get a shot at the next level. Now with everything that's happened, they won't get that opportunity."

But Hill isn't unhurt by the situation either. With his talent, Hill had the opportunity to improve his stock as a potential Division 1 signee.

“God has His plan,” said Hill. “He knew this was coming before we did. But you’ll always wonder the what-ifs. What if I was pitching a game and someone was there to watch it? What if we’d played the entire season and won state? Stuff like that goes through your mind.”

Unprecedented events are near about impossible to plan for, and they tend to hit us unexpectedly.

Sutton explains.

“None of us has seen something like this before, especially in our lifetime,” said the former West Jones standout and now head coach. “You don’t know it’s coming. We’re trying to feel our way through it.”

Hill recalls the moment he received news that, at the very least, the season was put on hold.

"I was at the gym when Coach Sutton sent us the text," said Hill. "It was like a stab to the gut. You've worked so hard for something during the offseason, and in a moment it's all taken away."

Before the season came to a halt, Hill was finding his groove on the mound. In his last start against Purvis at the Adidas Deep South Tournament, the senior RHP and teammate Kace Matthews combined for seven innings of shutout baseball. Hill threw five complete no-hit innings and struck out a season-high 12 batters.

“High school seniors are different than college seniors,” said Sutton. “College seniors may get to come back and play another year, but high school seniors like Sam, this is it. He was going to be our workhorse on the mound. He was swinging the bat well. He was doing a lot of good things, and it would have been great to see it all play out.”

"I was hoping to put a name out there for myself," added Hill. "I started a little slow, but I was beginning to settle down and overcome.

“During the summer, I got in the weight room and worked because I felt like I was being overlooked by a lot of places. And I think I proved myself. I got a lot stronger and put some weight on. It impacted my game a lot.”

While Hill still gets the opportunity to prove himself at the JUCO level, one question remains? What about the others who won’t get that chance?

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