A four-year player at New Mexico State, Parker Hipp has been a good player for the Aggies as well.
A native of San Diego, Calif., Hipp has started throughout his career as a middle infielder, his first three seasons at second base and this year at shortstop (he’s currently designated hitter while nursing injury).
This year he’s batting .293, with eight home runs and 40 RBI (numbers which rank amongst the team leaders).
We sat down and talked to the senior about his Aggie career, and what made NMSU a good college experience. For a full list of Aggie baseball senior capsules, click here.
Sun-News: So you’re nearing the end of your Division-I career. What’s your perspective on baseball?
Parker Hipp: “I always thought it was going to be different. But I didn’t think (college baseball) was going to be like this. College baseball for me was kind of looked at as an opportunity to test your skills against the next level. It was everything I thought it was going to be. But maybe a little bit harder too. You think all the guys are all the same age. But they’re still better than high-school level. There’s still guys that are freshman that come in and, just because you’re a senior, doesn’t mean that you’re going to beat them. .... It was just a fun time, being able to compete with guys your age .... And then compete against other players.”
SN: What are some lessons you’ve learned from the game?
PH: “That nothing worth having is easy to come by. Everything you do, you’ve got to put in work. Baseball is very time consuming, very work consuming. Just because you go to practice, you still got to work before practice, after practice if you want to be good. That kind of correlates with life, I think.”
SN: You came here from San Diego to Las Cruces. What were some of the positives to such a move?
PH: “It was kind of a smaller atmosphere, smaller feel to the town and the team. There wasn’t much going on outside of school and sports for me. Back in San Diego, there was more to do, more activities, I guess. But for this town and this team, it was kind of just focused on one or two things. Kind of just simplified things for me.”
SN: Has your life changed during that time?
PH: “Yeah, it’s different. I know when I go back home, I act completely different. I don’t act like a California kid anymore. I’m more relaxed, I don’t have to go and always have to do an activity. New Mexico’s kind of calmed me down, I guess. Maybe that’s because I’m getting older too.”
SN: What are your plans for the future?
PH: “Right now, I want to try to take baseball as far as I can. If nothing happens with the professional draft, I’ve talked with other independent associations. They have me kind of penciled in, if I want to work with them or not.”
SN: Your brother Kyle (former Aggie football player) came to the school right around the same time as you. Did that contribute to you playing here?
PH: “It made a good difference. I wouldn’t say the only difference, but it made one of the differences. I liked the program, I liked the hitting system. The next one was that my brother was going there. I’ve grown up with him, going to every same school. It kind of made it a little bit easier for me.”
SN: You’re a very good hitter, a very good contact hitter. What do you attribute that to?
PH: “I’ve always been a good contact hitter. For me, personally, I hate striking out. I always want to make contact. My theory is, put the ball in play. Something better’s going to happen than striking out. .... The hitting system, Gary Ward and Rocky Ward, they’ve also trained me to be able to put the best swing on the right pitches. So you don’t have to waste weak swings on the wrong pitches.”
SN: What about working with a legend like Gary Ward?
PH: “Gary was awesome. I wish that we could have had him a little bit longer. The good thing is, I’ve learned most of my stuff the first two years or three years (from him). He just brings a different perspective to the field, and he knows how to relate. Every hitter’s different, so he’ll relate it someway different to every hitter. He’s not going to say the same thing, over and over. He’ll change his wording around, he’ll change his tone of voice to get you to learn it better.”
SN: You’ve battled through some injuries during your playing career. How has that affected your game and do you think those injuries affected you in terms of getting drafted professionally to this point?
PH: “I don’t think so. I think injuries are one thing. Luckily I haven’t had any serious injuries that will handcuff me for the future years. Just some nagging injuries. A knee injury a couple years ago was a quick fix. I think my play has been fine. It does suck to get injured, and it sucks to see your team compete without you. It’s kind of hard to sit by the side .... If (professional) teams like my style of play, then they like my style of play and they’ll pick me up. If not, then there’s something either I’ll change, or I’ll have to take a look at after the season, see what else I can do.”
SN: This year’s team’s struggled from a fielding standpoint. Why?
PH: “We’ve had a lot of guys in different places. Right now, we’ve had probably 20 different lineups in the infield. Shortstop, second base, everybody’s playing different positions. I know it’s my first year at shortstop. I’m just starting to learn it again since high school. You got shortstops like Blackstone and Fallon, who have played shortstop their whole life, but then they moved to second base. I still think it’s a little bit of a learning curve, hopefully they’ll learn to play all the positions, so next year .... whatever coach wants to do, they’ll be able to help him.”
SN: You’ve taken a ton of road trips as a player. How would you compare NMSU’s program — specifically clubhouse, facilities and fan base standpoint — compared to others?
PH: “We’ve been to some cool stadiums and cool facilities. Rice was probably one of the best ones, the Baylor’s, the Arizona’s, those are unbelievable. But this one, you come for the good coaching .... The atmosphere is kind of cool, kind of like a college feel, so I’m sure the team’s can relate to that. But the coaching and the team is always really close. I always got along with every one of our players, so that was a really good thing.”
SN: The Aggies have typically started very hot and faded late. Is this year, the reverse going to happen?
PH: “We’re hoping so, and everything that we’ve talked about is, we all know that when we go to the conference tournament, we’re going to have to play every team again. I haven’t won a game in postseason since I’ve been here. That’s all because we started hot and tailed off late. Hopefully this year it’s different and we’re prepared enough to beat the teams the next time around. .... So when we play a team again, we’ll know what to do to beat them.”
If you go
Who: San Jose State (14-30 overall, 8-10 in the WAC) at NMSU (24-21 overall, 9-9 in the WAC)
What: WAC baseball series, senior weekend at NMSU
Where: Presley Askew Field
When: Friday and Saturday games at 6 p.m.; Sunday’s series finale begins at noon
On the air: Friday’s opener will be televised on AggieVision, while the final two games will be on radio at KSNM-AM 570