MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–As the close of the baseball season approaches, several seniors prepare for the end of their collegiate career and for whatever the future holds.
West Virginia’s Darius Hill will go down as one the best athletes to ever don the gold and blue.
Against Virginia Tech, he broke the team’s record for games played as he made his 221st career start. That was just one of many tremendous feats the senior right fielder has accomplished. On Thursday he surpassed Jedd Gyorko’s all-time record for doubles with 74.
“He’s obviously a great player,” Hill said. “He’s got a ton of records here. It’s just special to be a part of breaking one of them.”
Also, the senior outfielder broke the program record for career at-bats with 910, passing Tyler Kuhn’s previous record of 906 set between 2005-2008. He ranks in the top 10 in numerous other categories.
“When you’re not on the field, you still got to act like a champion and (Alek Manoah) and Darius have been across the board as good as anybody I’ve ever had as far as being committed to our program and culture and doing the right thing on the field, off the field,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “There couldn’t be two more deserving guys to break career records.”
Having such a prestigious career came with lots of dedication.
“Just being a hard worker,” Hill said. “Being consistent everyday. Somebody that will show up no matter who we’re playing, weather, whatever is going and be a threat to have a good day. That’s something I pride myself on doing and hopefully, leading by example other guys will do the same.”
Hill’s work ethic was something that was instilled into him at a young age by his father.
“I’ve always told the boys, that’s why I was so proud. That’s why I flew out for the record breaking deal was the most important ability, I said this for years and I believe it’s a Bill Parcells’ quote, the most important ability and I told them this since they were five years old, is availability,” Eddie Hill said. “If you’re not available, it don’t matter how talented you are or how tough you are or whatever else you are, none of that matters if you aren’t available to play, which means you got to be available, you got to keep your game. You got to be good enough to be available. You got to be on a team and be a guy that they can consider.
“You have to be healthy. You have to take care of your body. You got to be strong. You have to be all of those things. So that’s something I’ve talked about with my boys since they were little. The most important ability is availability. To his credit, he’s done all of those things and has been available to be in the lineup, He worked hard to be put in some position to be in the starting lineup for a long time now.”
Over the last four years, the Mountaineer baseball program has taken tremendous strides and Darius has played a vital role in that success.
In the past landing someone with the Dallas, Texas native’s talent may not have been an easy feat but he knew WVU was where he belonged. Darius and his family believed in Mazey and his coaching staff.
“Just that you saw it’s a Big 12 program that has the potential in an area because there isn’t too many big time programs,” Darius said. “The facility is going to be top notch. The coaching is top notch. It just felt like something was starting to be special here and it’s come to fruition.”
That was Mazey’s agenda.
“When guys like Darius came to this program, we were trying to sell them on the fact that ‘let’s do something that was never done before,” he said. “Let’s do something special.’ We don’t have a history of five or six consecutive regionals or super regionals. We are selling you guys on the fact that come here and let’s do something that’s never been done before.”
Despite the 1,200-mile haul across the country, the Hill family wanted Darius to be a part of the small college town lifestyle and the special thing that Mazey was brewing.
“I had a great feeling about Mazey,” Eddie said. “To be honest that’s what it came down to. We stood up and Darius as well. But my personal feeling was if you want to go here, then I fully support you. Because I like the way he was talking about it and felt the opportunity was great. He could play in the Big 12, play a lot of games around our home area but he could still go away.”
Four years later, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound outfielder has broken records, been a part of history with the achievements the Mountaineers have accomplished. With the season winding down, WVU could still find itself hosting a regional.
When Darius moves on to the next level, he will leave not only a part of something special but with memories and friendships that he won’t forget.
“It’s unique, just spending countless hours over four plus years here,” he said. “It’s really special to see it come to an end but there is so many memories I’ve made. I’ll look back on it and smile. It’s sad that it’s ending but it’s been amazing at the same time.”
Those memories will stay with his family, too. The distance was never too much for Eddie and his wife Simone to watch their son. During his tenure at WVU, the two got a chance to watch Darius up to 35 times a season, including 12-15 games a year in Morgantown.
Darius’ senior season was no different. They made the journey to Blacksburg, Va. to surprise him in his 221st start.
And Eddie got a taste of his own medicine for the secret trip when Mazey pranked him.
“The best part was Mazey, obviously I’ve had a good relationship with him over the years and he sees me and says, ‘hey were you at Sundays game?’ and obviously, I wasn’t. I had to fly back home,” Eddie said. “He only saw me Friday. I was like, no shoot. I wasn’t there. So he was like ‘what’s the deal?’ and I said, ‘Well, I thought I’d come see Darius break the record. I know he tied it on Sunday.’ He said, ‘you should of called me. He’s out of the lineup today.’ I got a kick out of that. That was about 30 minutes before the game.”
Obviously, that wasn’t the case and his parents saw Darius make history. With all the Dallas Jesuit alum has accomplished both on and off the field, it is easy to see why his parents are so proud of the young man they raised.
And Eddie has a tremendous amount of respect for Darius.
“I respect him, Eddie said. “To me that’s a high honor. I don’t respect very many people to be honest with you. I have a true amount of respect for few people but I have a tremendous amount of respect for his work ethic, for his dedication and his hard work. That’s a big thing. As a parent, you have all these things you hope for your kid. I couldn’t hope for or have a better son. I respect what he’s done and what he’s accomplished and the work that he’s put in and what he’s done at West Virginia.”