gave his coach little choice that he was going to make the varsity baseball team and log plenty of playing time.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Tolle started last season for the Bethany (Okla.)
squad and showed it wasn't a fluke he could adapt and hit varsity pitching. He hit eight home runs, racked up 37 RBI and had a .375 average. That was all hitting out of the No. 7 hole in the lineup.
"You'd say, ‘Why did you put a big kid like that in the seventh spot?' Because we put no pressure on him," Bethany baseball coach Jim Drummond said. "He didn't have to produce because there were other guys that could play really well and he ended up doing so."
Tolle, who plays first base and dabbles in pitching, loved batting deep in the order.
"You can just relax, see the pitcher more, you really sit back and encourage the guys in front of you," said Tolle, who was named honorable mention on The Oklahoman Little All-City baseball roster a season ago. "I like it — it was good."
Tolle certainly accomplished more than he thought he would in his first year as a varsity player.
"I think I surprised myself a little bit," Tolle said. "I was just going into it thinking, let's just hit the ball hard and see what happens. I guess the ball flies some days and sometimes it doesn't."
This season, Drummond has plugged Tolle into the No. 2 hole. That's an uncustomary spot in the lineup for a power hitter, but Drummond feels like it protects Tolle from getting intentionally walked. With solid hitters on both sides of him, pitchers have to throw him strikes. That's trouble since Tolle is such a strong contact hitter.
When his coach told him where he'd be hitting second in the lineup, Tolle — like he always does — has just rolled with the punches.
"I just thought, ‘You know what's best for me. So, whatever's going to help the team is what I will do so we can win,' " Tolle said.
Drummond has witnessed a jump in play from Tolle's freshman to sophomore seasons. He's physically a bigger kid this year, which is helping him at the plate.
"He's got a really good work ethic," Drummond said. "He's got a couple of other players that have the potential to play in college that are around his age group and he works well with them."
Early in the season, Tolle has upped his leadership skills and is playing more of a vocal leader to his teammates. His physical skills have also improved.
"I think that I've gotten a lot quicker and stronger with football and basketball," Tolle said. "Getting the gym and getting to work on quick feet in basketball and then in the weight room with football."
Toole is your typical all-American kid, playing baseball along with football and basketball.
"I love the team part of it," Tolle said. "Football going out there, creating bonds with the team and just making friendships with those guys. That's what drives me for all three sports, having those friends out there, having the camaraderie that a lot of other people don't have."
This past fall, Tolle was a backup tight end and defensive end for the Bethany football team that was the 4A state runners-up. For basketball, Tolle was the sixth man who came into each game to provide a few points and corral some rebounds and loose balls.
Tolle is a well-rounded kid who serves as a great role model at his school.
"He's just a neat person," Drummond said. "He doesn't have anything bad to say about anyone. He gets along well with others and he's very humble. As a result, people gravitate to him because he's a good person. And that's what is so really nice."
While being a three-sport athlete, Tolle doesn't let his busy athletic life affect how well he does in the classroom. His grade point average is an impressive 4.187, all the while taking three advanced courses.
"We as a family talk about the top five things you should always care about: that's God, family, friends, baseball and school is always up there in the top five," Tolle said. "School is a priority."
Tolle is heavily involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at his school. He's a sophomore class representative where he helps get the word out about events to his peers.
Tolle's mom is a dedicated volunteer around the Bethany community and her son likes to follow in her footsteps. At his church, Tolle helps out with various activities and runs a video camera for Sunday services. He also frequents a local food bank once a year to serve community members who are less fortunate.
Tolle enjoys spending as much time as he can with his mom, Jina. A very courageous woman, she beat colon cancer in 2016 but the disease returned near the end of 2018.
"His mother is a go-getter," Drummond said. "She doesn't let any of it hold her back."
Tolle tries to be as supportive has he can and make life easier for his mom, especially when she is hit hard by chemotherapy.
"I just do whatever she needs me to do, if that's pick up my younger brother Charlie, go get groceries," Tolle said. "She doesn't feel well some days, I'll pick up the house for her. Kind of small stuff like that."
Drummond has sat back and watched the Tolle family become a tight unit during a tough time in their lives.
"I've never seen a group that works so well together," Drummond said. "They're a loving family that's an inspiration because you would not know there are some physical considerations because of the attitude and the way they approach life."
Said Tolle: "We are tight and we love each other a lot. If a couple of days go by and I'm out baseballing or we're split up, we'll make sure to have dinner on the table and talk and stuff like that. It does bring us together more now than it did before."
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