Cameron Hill is Sparking Hopewell
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Apr 29, 2014, 18:10
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
HOPEWELL — Cameron Hill stepped into the batter's box in the 7th inning against Henrico with the bases loaded, two-outs and his team trailing by five. It's a situation many hitters envision over the course of their lives, imagining themselves with the big hit in the most critical of situations. Hill's face, business-like in its determination, said all one needed to know to realize how confident he felt at the plate.
His Hopewell teammates sensed it as well, standing at the top-step of the dugout, eagerly anticipating what Hill would do in the situation. The confidence everyone had in the Blue Devils' No. 2 hitter would seem to be reserved for a senior leader, one who has both been in and excelled in these situations before, but that is not the case.
Hill is a freshman starter whose tremendous skill-set has taken shape at a higher arc than most players who make the jump from junior high school to high school competition. It's why the second baseman unleashed on the very first offering, pulling it deep down the right field line as it fell just foul, sending relief into the Henrico dugout and anxiousness into Hopewell's.
While Hill would strikeout to end the game after fouling off two more tough pitches, it's been a rare occurrence for the youngster who has been the spark-plug at the top of the lineup for the Blue Devils. After all, Hill had already compiled three hits in the game prior to his final at-bat and has been a constant headache for opposing pitchers, impressing his manager.
"The fact that he can be on varsity, be a starter, play different positions and hit in the No. 2 spot where he has good speed, bat control and power is impressive," Hopewell manager Bobby Pershing said before a practice. "He stays upbeat most of the time and doesn't get down a whole lot. He's a pleasant kid to have around."
And the reason he is a pleasure is because of the amount of work and dedication he takes to becoming more refined in his game each day.
The freshman continually works on his hitting, specifically how to hit the ball to the opposite-field which a key reason he is in the coveted No. 2 spot, and his mindset. Hill is a player who has felt the pressure to perform from the outside in both football and baseball all his life, yet he has never wilted while facing it. Instead, he has been up for the challenge each time.
There he was in the Fall making an impact on the gridiron for Hopewell as he and Ronnie Monroe helped solidify a leaky secondary and now he's doing the same for a Blue Devils' baseball team which is aiming to surprise in the Conference 26 Tournament.
He realizes that he won't always make the right pitch or get the big hit, but he knows he can always improve.
"I know mistakes are going to happen," Hill explained of his mindset. "I know that I can make myself better. I know what I'm doing and the mistakes I make. All I can do is just become better."
It's a scary thought to envision Hill a few years down the road after considering what he has already accomplished as a freshman.
During the first week of the season, Hill threw one of the most impressive games Pershing has seen during his time as a baseball coach against Highland Springs. In his first start of the year, Hill tossed a complete-game effort while striking out 16 batters and walking none to give Hopewell a second-straight win.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
But that would be only part of the production as Hill's defensive ability at all of the infield positions has allowed Pershing to put regular shortstop Trent Scott and third baseman Will Avery on the mound without worry as to who can play in their spot. Additionally, Hill's hitting has been one of the bright spots on a team which has struggled to score all season long and has won just one out of their last six games.
However, most impressive to Pershing is the way he has dealt with the pressure of being a freshman and playing in critical situations on both the football and baseball fields.
"He doesn't sit back on the skill-level he already has," Pershing explained. "He's willing to work to get better and that's what you like to see ... someone who comes to you with a certain skill-set, but is not satisfied that it's good enough."
It's why Hill will likely continue his early success and season head toward its conclusion. While he may have struck out against Henrico, there's little doubt the failure did nothing but fuel his desire for future success, making him a focal point for Hopewell's offense moving forward.