Lake Norman & Mooresville

Hills showcases talent, aims for college ball

Parker Hills has had a busy summer.

The 6-2, 180-pound East Lincoln catcher/pitcher has been playing summer baseball around the country trying to get his name out in the college recruiting world.

"I've been playing every weekend and practicing just trying to get better," he said, explaining that one of the aspects of his game he's focused on is shortening up his swing.

Hills has played with the Virginia-based Mid-Atlantic Mustangs, a premier showcase team that draws players from both Virginia and North Carolina, for the past few months.

With the team, Hills played for eight weekends in a row at tournaments from New York to Georgia.

Hills was approached by Mid-Atlantic's coach Steven Ross after he saw him play, asking if he was interested in playing for the organization.

Hills is hopeful that playing showcase ball will help him achieve one of his dreams - to play college baseball.

"I've always wanted to play at the next level and go get a good education," the 17-year-old said. "This is the way to do that, and it's been very exciting."

East Lincoln baseball coach Chris Matile said playing showcase ball will get Hills more looks than he would normally get in Denver.

"This is his best opportunity to get seen so he can play at the next level," said Matile. "We're happy for him."

Hills said he's already received some college attention, but nothing major yet.

The rising senior is anxious for the upcoming year after having an outstanding junior season this spring, playing well behind the plate and at the mound.

Hills was 7-4 as a pitcher, recording a 2.80 ERA and 56 strikeouts during his 39 2/3 innings of work last season.

The right-hander gave his teammates a lot of credit for his success.

"When I was on the mound, I wouldn't have to worry about them making errors behind me," said Hills. "That made it easier for me."

At the plate, Hills also had a good season, leading the team in RBIs as well as hitting .382 and a team-high five homeruns for the year.

He credits his improved hitting on the extra work he put in with Matile on his swing.

Matile said he's proud of Hills and what he brought to his Mustangs.

"He plays the two most important positions on the field, so to have somebody with his ability and work ethic obviously was a huge bonus for our team," said Matile. "We're very fortunate to have him."

After East Lincoln , 18-10 (7-5 in the SPC), played well down the stretch last season and reached the second round of the state playoffs, Hills hopes the team will do better in 2011.

"I just hope I can help the team win," he said.

Hills was recently named to the N.C. Baseball Coaches Association All-State 2A Baseball Team. Hills said the honors he has garnished, which also include Southern Piedmont Conference Player of the Year, have validated the hard work he has put in to improve in the last few seasons.

"It also makes me want to work harder to achieve more," he said.

As the school year starts to inch closer, Hills will continue to show off his talent for college coaches but he'll also spend time relaxing at his grandfather's lake house.

Hills plans to run cross country for the first time this year and will continue to play small forward for East Lincoln, which he says should help him stay in shape for baseball season.

"I'm very excited," he said.