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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Ready to Repeat

Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smesler

Junior Brigham Hill went 9-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 2016 after taking over as the Friday starter in the middle of SEC play.

Brigham Hill has always played baseball with a chip on his shoulder.
He played with it at the beginning of last year when he was fighting for innings out of the bullpen, and he played with it when he took over as the Aggies’ Friday night starter in the middle of SEC play.
Don’t expect his approach to change in 2017, even as the junior right-hander enters the season as the bona-fide ace of the Texas A&M pitching staff and a preseason All-American.
“Playing with a chip on my shoulder is something I’ve always done since I was little,” Hill said. “When you go out there you have to be confident and feel like they’re trying to take something away from you. Whether I’m relieving or starting, whenever Coach puts me in I’m just going to go out there and do my best. To have success you can’t have the mentality that you’re better than anyone, you just have to go out and do your thing and be comfortable.”
After going 9-2 on the mound with a 2.51 ERA in 2016, Hill elected to stay in Texas and not pitch for a summer team like most college players. He threw a career-high 97 innings last year, and he and his coaches wanted to give his arm a rest after a long season.
He worked out in College Station at the A&M baseball facilities during the week and spent several of his weekends back home in Nacogdoches fishing and working on his family’s ranch.
Hill says his arm feels great, and head coach Rob Childress has been impressed since the fall with Hill’s physicality after an offseason of lifting.
Even though Hill comes into the season under different circumstances, he will take his same bulldog-like mentality to the mound every time he takes the ball this season. Although his fastball doesn’t light up the radar gun, he commands it well to both sides of the plate and mixes in a devastating Vulcan changeup that keeps hitters off balance.
“He’s deceiving. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but his changeup is the real deal,” said sophomore third baseman George Janca. “He throws that, and then he comes back with his fastball and it makes it look like it’s 10 miles-an-hour harder than it really is.”
Hill employs a relentless style of pitching that fills up the strike zone and attacks hitters all game long.
“If you’re not ready to hit when he’s on the mound, you’re going to get embarrassed,” assistant coach Will Bolt said. “He just suffocates the strike zone with good stuff. Guys that can throw strikes with command and with stuff — they’re hard to hit.”
Said Childress: “He’s a guy that has to go out and outcompete, outthink and outpitch you. He’s an incredible competitor and he takes it personally in everything that he does.”
Hill’s new role as the ace brings added responsibility. He is not only the leader of the pitching staff, but one of the guys all his teammates look to for direction.
“It’s definitely a new role for me,” Hill said. “Last year I was just kind of one of the guys and this year me along with a lot of other guys have to step up. You have to get out of your comfort zone to be a good leader and we definitely try to do our best to set the example.”
Replicating his 2016 success will be no easy task for Hill, who was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 20th round of last year’s MLB Draft. The SEC boasts several lineups littered with talented hitters, and opponents will have more of a scouting report on him after seeing him pitch so much last year.
Hill knows he can’t put too much pressure on himself because even though he was superb last year, baseball is a game of overcoming bad luck and adversity.
“I’m going to do my best,” Hill said. “I feel great and I think it’s going to be a great season.”
Because ultimately, the preseason All-American honors and other accolades coming Hill’s way don’t mean much. They prove to him that others respect his talents, but he vows to not let them get to his head and create complacency in his work habits.
“It’s a really cool honor and it’s a blessing to get that, but at the end of the day that doesn’t mean anything,” Hill said. “You’ve got to go out and perform.”
In other words, the chip remains squarely on his shoulder — and it doesn’t look like it will be leaving anytime soon.

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  • Brigham Hill is 4-1 with a 2.61 ERA in five starts this year. 

  • Junior Brigham Hill chose not to pitch for a summer team in the offseason, instead opting to work out at the Texas A&M baseball facility,

    Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser
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