Oak Hill Academy senior Ken “Buddy” Dill III, seated, right, poses for a picture Monday after signing a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba. Dill’s mother, Kerry; his father Ken II; his brother, Cameron; and Oak Hill Academy baseball coach Mitch Bohon are with him. Photo by: Adam Minichino/Dispatch Staff Buy this photo.
January 10, 2017 10:34:25 AM
WEST POINT -- Ken "Buddy" Dill III's baseball dreams have been developing ever since he started playing the sport when he was 3 or 4 years old.
Through all of the hours of working on his swing to fielding ground balls, Dill never lost sight of his goal and continued to work hard to overcome the ups and downs that come with the game.
That work has continued at Oak Hill Academy, where Dill has been a member of the varsity baseball program since he was an eighth-grader.
Dill realized a big return on that investment Monday when he signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.
"I just tried to focus on playing and being better and getting better," Dill said. "I think I have a good work ethic, but I also have had a lot of coaches who have helped me grow and helped instill that work ethic in me and made me a better person and a better player."
Dill hit .340, had three home runs, 27 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases last season. He also had a fielding percentage of .984 and was voted All-Conference and All-State.
Oak Hill Academy coach Mitch Bohon, who played at EMCC, has watched Dill mature into a team leader who epitomizes what you would expect a baseball player to be.
"He works hard, he does it the right way, and he is a great ballplayer and a great kid," Bohon said. "He has God-given tools that not every player has. He has instincts, intelligence, and he works hard. He is the quiet type. He leads by example."
Bohon believes Dill's best baseball is ahead of him because he has been a multi-sport standout (football and basketball) at Oak Hill Academy. He feels Dill will be able to maximize his athletic ability when he has an opportunity to focus on baseball.
"I think he will develop more consistency," Bohon said. "That is probably the biggest issue with him right now. I think the consistency will take care of itself once he gets more reps."
Bohon hopes Dill will be an anchor in the middle of the lineup. He also will give Dill a chance to take the closer's role. Dill smiled when asked about the opportunity. He said he has pitched in the past but that he is excited to put the work he has put in on two new pitches to work this season to see how he fares.
"I have been working on a couple of new pitches I haven't done before," Dill said. "We are doing whatever we can do to try to win."
In the fall, Dill was selected to play in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) All-Star Football Game. He helped lead Oak Hill Academy by throwing for 1,560 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also rushed for 144 yards on 25 carries.
These days, Dill is playing for the school's boys basketball team while preparing for baseball season. He said he "feels at home" on a court or on a field and that playing sports brings out the best in him. He said he wants to bounce back after what he called "a little bit of a down year" as a junior. A new challenge will help motivate him for his final season and help prepare him for his college career.
"I am going to try something different and have a little fun with it and not keep too much pressure on myself," Dill said. "Last year was a good learning experience. I went through a slump and I felt like I was pressing and I was trying too hard to put the bat on the ball. All I had to do was relax and let it come to me and just play. Last year was a big learning experience for me so I will be more prepared for this year."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
1. EMCC mourns loss of Clemons COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Columbus boys will face nationally ranked Memphis East tonight HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Hard work pays off for Campbell on MSU women's team COLLEGE SPORTS
4. McNelis likes what she sees from No. 7 MSU COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Howland believes MSU men can play better defense COLLEGE SPORTS