JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It was not all that long ago that Jackson State newcomer Ty Hill was at the bottom... literally.
The junior college transfer came to the Tigers last offseason to fill a void at third base and provide some power in the middle of the order. But after having no chance in the fall to practice with the team due to COVID-19 protocols and an accelerated preseason in February, the hits at the beginning of the season weren’t coming for Hill.
His first four games at JSU saw him record 10 at-bats, but not a single hit.
“He couldn’t do a lot right at that point,” Jackson State coach Omar Johnson recalled.
His hand forced due to lack of offense, Johnson slid Hill all the way down to ninth spot in the order for a midweek game against Tougaloo.
That turned out to be exactly the wake-up call Hill needed. He went 4-for-6 in that game with two doubles and four runs batted in. And since then, the hitting hasn’t stopped. As the Tigers make the turn towards the final week of the regular season, Hill currently leads the team with a torrid .441 batting average and is in the midst of a 23-game hit streak.
“I think this is the very first year that I’ve batted over .400,” said Hill who came to JSU this season after spending two years at Wallace State Community College in Alabama.
“I’m just seeing the ball better and getting good pitches to hit.”
That is a gross understatement.
On top of the lengthy hitting streak, Hill is currently on a four-game stretch where he has totaled three or more hits in each game. Beginning with Jackson State’s series against Mississippi Valley State that began on April 3 and ending with a series at Alabama A&M last weekend, Hill hit for a ridiculous .571 clip in 54 at-bats.
Just as fast as Johnson slid him down to the bottom of the order, he now has Hill’s name written in ink in the third spot.
“He’s been unbelievable,” said Johnson. “We’ve swung the bat as a team pretty good the entire season. but him individually, the last four weekends, he’s been lights out.
“The ability was always there. We got back in January and he hadn’t seen live pitching in almost a year, give him a couple at-bats and it just really took off.”
What may be the oddest part of this torrid pace that he is on, is that Hill can’t pinpoint any drastic change in his swing or his approach at the plate that had changed his fortunes. The only thing different, he thinks, between the start of the season and now, is his mindset.
“I have my mental ready,” he explains. “I pick the pitch that I want to hit and just try to do the job for my team.”
Hill will look to continue to do that job for his team as the Tigers, who have already clinched the SWAC regular season title, will look to complete an undefeated conference record when they host Mississippi Valley State beginning this Friday. Before that though, JSU hosts UL-Monroe on Wednesday in what will be its final non-conference game of the season until postseason, should they win the SWAC Tournament.
Those team goals coming first for Hill, but even he admits that he wants to finish the season hitting over .400 and keep the hitting streak going.
“That would be a great achievement and I’ll always remember it,” he said. “This is just the best year that I’ve ever had.”