Today, Brent Hill is firing bullets with his fast ball. In less than 24 hours, he could be firing cannon shells.

A baseball player one day, a soldier the next.

As a sergeant and support platoon leader in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, he is with the 1/160 Field Artillery unit. Hill will be in Chandler Saturday for the Guard's regular monthly meeting.

But before donning his military uniform Saturday, Hill put on a baseball uniform on Friday.

He was scheduled to be the opening day pitcher for the Rogers State University Hillcats. Under the direction of coach Ron Bradley, RSU played Cameron University Friday afternoon.

The game Hill was pitching was the first official game at the university's on-campus baseball field.

The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday.

Hill is not the conventional college baseball player. At 26, he is six to eight years older than his Hillcat teammates.

Officially, he is listed on the roster as a transfer senior. But he has not pitched in a college game for more than four years.

Guard duty has slowed his formal education somewhat. At the same time, Hill's overall knowledge has grown tremendously, he says.

Serving on a general's security staff, Hill, who is single, has made several trips overseas during the eight years he has been in the Guard. He was called to New York City immediately after the 9/11 attack and he was in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

"My group is scheduled to go to Iraq some time next year," he added.

This weekend, Hill said, is expected to be devoted to record reviews and paper work. "We are going back to the firing range in about two months."

In the meantime, Hill wants to obtain his college degree. This will also allow him to return to the sport he loves.

Bradley and the younger baseball teammates are making Hill feel right at home.

"Some of the players call me ‘grandpa’ or ‘pappy’ and even 'lieutenant,' but it is with respect and humor and we have all come together quickly as a team," Hill said. "We have the makings of a great team if we all execute on the field.

"I didn't know what to expect the first day, but I walked into the dressing room and the first person I saw was Todd (Koscheski) smiling at me. I knew then everything was go to be all right."

Hill also knew Claremore Sequoyah graduate Dustin Gunnells. Gunnells and Koscheski, a fifth-year senior from Claremore, played summer baseball in Tulsa with Hill's younger brother.

A four-sport letterman at Tulsa’s Hale High School, Hill graduated in 1998. He then played baseball at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford from 2001 through ’03. He was selected as the Lone Star Conference pitcher of the year in '02.

"After the third year there, my life became busy with the military commitment and I needed to make some money to pay bills and such, but I knew I would eventually finish school," Hill said.

"I was working last summer with Larry Fournier, and I mentioned to him I wanted to go back and obtain a degree in mass communications. Larry lives here and knows Coach Bradley. He told me I should check with him about playing ball at the same time."

Bradley said: "Brent calls me up one day and asks if we need another pitcher. I did some checking on his background and if he had any eligibility left. We discovered he had another year. Then after watching him throw, we knew he had the mental and physical toughness to help the team.

He has already stepped into a leadership role. All the team has accepted him right from the beginning."

Asked if the long layoff might be a problem, Bradley said it would not. "Due to his military training, Brent was in great shape when practice started. As a pitcher, he will be able to work and battle through any

adjustments he needs to make. This is easier for pitchers than the hitters and fielders. Brent will be throwing sliders, not trying to hit sliders."

In addition to the slider, Hill has a curve ball to add to his fast ball which has been clocked near 90 miles per hour.

Hill commutes from his Tulsa home to attend classes at RSU. A full-time student, he also has a Friday program on campus radio station KRSU, 91.3 FM. For two hours, he takes call-in requests for musical numbers. At Southwestern State, he was a reporter for the school newspaper. After graduation, he expects to enter the communications field.

For the military side of his busy life, Hill plans to remain with the National Guard until retirement in 12 years.

"I enjoy being in the Guard," Hill said. "And it has been a good way to pay for college."

He recently completed Officers Candidate School and will soon carry the rank of 2nd lieutenant.

Temperatures for today's game were forecast to be in the upper 30s — cold for baseball.

"I enjoy pitching in cold weather," Hill said with a smile. "And hitters don't like it being cool when they make contact with the bat. It stings their hands.

"This is a great honor being able to pitch in the first game in this new park.”

Military officer, college student, baseball pitcher. Hill has a plan for every facet of his life.

Contact Larry Larkin at the Daily Progress sports desk, 341-0648.