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New University of Hawaii baseball coach Rich Hill sets lofty goals for program

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                San Diego head coach Rich Hill during an NCAA regional college baseball tournament game against Cal Poly, in May 2013, in Los Angeles.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    San Diego head coach Rich Hill during an NCAA regional college baseball tournament game against Cal Poly, in May 2013, in Los Angeles.

In an introductory Zoom call, newly hired University of Hawaii baseball coach Rich Hill wasted little time in identifying a top-of-the-list goal.

“I want to win now in year one,” said Hill, who is leaving a successful 23-year stint at the University of San Diego to rejuvenate the UH program.

UH athletic director David Matlin concluded a nationwide search with the selection of Hill as successor to Mike Trapasso, who was not renewed for a 21st UH season. Matlin consulted with UH players and “search advisers” before making his decision.

Matlin said Hill reached agreement on a five-year contract, although financial details have not been finalized.

UH posted the job descriptions for assistant coaches today. The applications cannot be reviewed until next Friday.

Hill, who met with the returning UH players in a Zoom call today, said his goals are to reach out to the alumni, develop ties with the community, fill Les Murakami Stadium, and host an NCAA regional tournament. He also wishes to develop a team with “tough” players who have “outstanding character” and are “extremely talented.”

While overseeing the entire program, Hill will run the offense, coach third base, work with the hitters, particularly the infielders, and direct the base running.

He said he will hire a pitching coach and another coach to work with the outfielders and catchers.

“We’re going to develop a strong pitching staff,” Hill said. “We’re going to develop a strong middle — catcher, shortstop, second base, center field. Speed, power, ability to score quick, eliminate the free 90 (walks, errors) on defense and we’re going to get free 90s on offense. That’s really a player development model, a winning model in 2021 that works.”

Hill indicated UH’s recruiting base begins in Hawaii, and extends to Arizona, the Pacific Northwest, Las Vegas, Orange County, Los Angeles and Texas. He also will scout tournaments in Georgia and North Carolina for “rising juniors” in the 2021 recruiting class. He also is seeking to add to the 2022 class, which currently has six commits.

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