Jack GIlsenan

Hillgrove second baseman Jack Gilsenan on deck during last year’s state championship series against Parkview at SuntTrust Park. He will continue his baseball career at Piedmont College.

Hillgrove second baseman Jack Gilsenan nearly quit baseball at 9 years old because he was afraid that he was going to get hit by a line drive.

He also knew that baseball was in his blood following his father and grandfather to the diamond.

So instead of giving it up, he put that fear aside, and now he’s living a childhood dream.

Gilsenan finished his college orientation online at Piedmont College last week and is thrilled to begin his next baseball chapter with the Lions. He is now undergoing an eight-week conditioning program this summer to prepare himself for college and is playing travel ball for the 6-4-3 Cougars.

“(Playing college baseball) is something that I always wanted to do as a little kid growing up,” Gilsenan said. “The fact that a dream is becoming reality, this is an enjoyable time. It’s a weird situation that we are in, and I’m looking forward to getting on campus and getting started.”

That “weird situation” was the coronavirus pandemic, which prevented him and the remaining seven seniors on this year’s Hillgrove roster from having a proper ending to their high school careers.

Hillgrove was enjoying a six-game winning when it was announced that schools were closing, and the Georgia High School Association put a ban on all spring sports. The Hawks (9-5) had just swept Kennesaw Mountain to start Region 3AAAAAAA play.

“We had practice that Thursday,” Gilsenan said, “and we knew something was up because our coaches are never on their phones at practice, and they weren’t talking to us. At the time, I kind of took it as a surprise. It didn’t feel real then, and it doesn’t feel real now.”

That makes college baseball more important. There are more memories and friendships to be made.

“I’m grateful that I still have an opportunity to play the game I love, and that this situation didn’t take away my last opportunity to play game I love.”

Gilsenan is primarily a second baseman, but knowing that he will be a freshman next year, he says he is open to playing any position if it means getting playing time.

“He’s a gritty hard-nosed player,” Hillgrove coach David Richardson said. “He’s very fundamentally sound, I mean, he did all the little things really well. He was in the right positions all the time and is one of those type of kids you enjoy coaching day in and day out. He’s a good teammate and makes people around him better.”

Gilsenan’s shortened season wasn’t without its highlights. Less than a year after winning a grueling three-game series over Woodstock in the second round of the state tournament last year, Gilsenan hit a three-run double to help seal a 5-2 in a non-region victory.

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