Carolina on my mind

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004

PROCTORVILLE - Michael Hill has come a long way since he was a small boy. He hopes to go even further.

Hill, the Fairland Dragons standout right-handed pitcher, realized a childhood dream Wednesday when he signed a national letter-of-intent to play baseball at East Carolina University.

"When I was in little league and went to the state tournament, (playing college baseball) was my dream. I wanted to make it to the next level and then the pros," Hill said.

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Pitching in summer tournaments throughout the country, Hill caught the eye of an East Carolina coach who saw him pitch twice. Although Hill has talked with other schools, he said the Pirates offered him the best opportunity.

"They have a real nice facility and they're one of the top baseball schools in the country," Hill said. "No one really knows about them but they're ranked eighth in the country. I talked to Cincinnati, but it's a lot warmer (at Carolina) and I'll get to play more games."

Fairland head coach Roger Snyder said Hill was not only a great pitcher, he called the Dragons shortstop one of the top infielders in the area.

"He's the best all-around baseball player I've coached," Snyder said. "He's as good an infielder as you'll find and you'll not find anyone more fluid. The told him if he stands out he could get time at other positions."

Hill's numbers back up Snyder's praise. Hill has a .433 career batting average and has just 12 errors in three seasons.

As a pitcher, Hill is 18-7 with a 1.65 earned run average in 152.2 innings. He has 263 strikeouts and just 59 walks while allowing 104 hits.

Jon Adkins, the Chicago White Sox pitcher from Wayne, W.Va., who tutors Hill in the offseason, said the Dragons senior pitcher has the tools and work ethic to be a success.

"He's very athletic. Things come to him fairly easy and he's a good learner," Adkins said. "He has the demeanor you need. He doesn't get too high or too low and he has presence on the mound.

"He's learned how to pitch. When he gets to college he'll get more physical size. He has a really bright future ahead of him."

Hill knows that there's a lot more work ahead as he prepares not only for his senior season but for East Carolina.

"I have to work real hard. I can't let up just because I've signed. I have to make myself better," Hill said.

"Jon Adkins has worked with me and he's helped with my location and learning how to pitch and what to throw in certain situations. He's worked with my on a change-up. It's one of the hardest pitches to learn. It's getting better."

Snyder doesn't have any reservations about Hill's future.

"They'll get him a littler bigger and a little stronger in college. If they do that, he'll have success. He's a hard worker, he loves the game and he plays it all the time," Snyder said.

Hill is the son of Greg and Teresa Hill. Greg Hill played at Marshall University and in the Minnesota Twins farm system.