Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

April 15, 2014

Villines letting God direct his future on diamond

BLUEFIELD — His name was called during the Major League Baseball amateur draft in 2008.

Kahlin Villines, who was selected in the 45th round by the San Francisco Giants, decided to go the college route to professional baseball.

“I wanted to (go), but I see now after a couple of years that I wasn’t ready,” Villines said. “God had to do a lot in me first before I was ready so now I think I am ready.”

A 6-foot, 190-pound senior from Durham, N.C., Villines is a center fielder at Bluefield College, winding down his amateur career, with definite plans to play at the next level.

“Oh yeah. I just try to take it day by day, I try not to get caught up in that, just come out here and try to have fun and take it day by day,” said Villines, who is majoring in sports management. “Right now I kind of get a little worried about next year, where I will be playing, if not, but I just try to take everything day by day and come out here and have fun and let God take care of the rest of it.”

Villines, who is batting .311 with eight home runs and 51 RBIs this season, has had a stellar campaign, claiming National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Student-Athlete of the Week honors earlier this season, batting .360 with 15 RBIs and six home runs, including two multi-homer games, in a seven-game stretch.

“It has been pretty good, I just tell people all the time, they just want to know about the success,” Villines said. “They have been working with me a lot, especially just sitting back and just kind of building that confidence back in myself.

“That has been the biggest thing this year is just having the confidence in myself and just trying to help out my team.”

It has worked. Among Villines’ 42 hits are seven doubles and a triple, along with 30 runs scored and a .556 slugging percentage. He has 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts, and has just two errors in 78 chances in center field.

He is currently 6th in NAIA Division I in RBIs and 17th in home runs.

All that and Villines bats ninth in the lineup. He isn’t complaining.

“To be honest I am just happy I am in the lineup,” said Villines, with a smile. “It doesn’t matter where I am batting. I think batting lower I can kind of just focus and calm down and not try to do too much, it has helped me out a lot.”

That doesn’t mean he is overlooked at that spot in the lineup, far from it.

“To be honest, because I haven’t seen too many fastballs, it really hasn’t helped too much.” he said, with a laugh.

Villines had a stellar senior campaign at Durham Riverside High School in North Carolina, batting .396 with eight home runs. He was drafted by the Giants, but decided to attend Surry Community College.

“I am actually glad,” Villines said. “Now that I see how God worked everything out, I am glad I didn’t go.”

Professional baseball is in his blood. His grandfather, Eddie Neville, posted 134 wins as a minor league pitcher, including 75 wins and three Carolina League All-Star appearances with the Durham Bulls.

“I love baseball, it is a gift, I love being out here,” Villines said. “I love baseball and hopefully I can use the gifts that I have to build God’s kingdom.”

That faith in God has played a large role in decisions made by Villines, including his choice of Bluefield after two years at Surry.

“That was very important, and just coming here it has built my faith,” Villines said “At times stuff does get hard, but being here and being around Christian people and friends, the love and the support, it gets you through those tough times.”

He credits his mother for raising him in a Christian walk, and has learned to accept that winning and losing at baseball isn’t what life is all about.

“I guess I get my faith from my mom,” Villines said. “I always have, for a lot of people baseball is life, but for me, it is not life. In baseball, you can do all the right things and still lose a baseball game, but every day knowing what Christ has done for me, I will always win.”

Villines’ skills are easy to define on the baseball field, but it hasn’t been all fun and games.

“Every time I have been out here on the field people will see a gift,” Villines said. “I went through a tough time a couple of years ago and these past few years have really been about believing in myself again.

“People see the ability and it is one thing when people see it, but it is another when you believe in yourself and that has been the biggest thing is just having that confidence in myself, knowing I have the ability and just come out here and have fun playing, and that is what I have been doing.

“It is nothing special, I haven’t changed anything, it is really nothing that I have done, it is everything that God has done, He gets all the credit.”

Villines has been on a role over the last five games, with his average having risen from .270 to .311, having batted .600 (12-20) in a 4-1 stretch for the Rams, along with 13 RBIs, eight runs scored, four doubles.

No wonder Villines has enjoyed his two years in Bluefield.

“I love it, most people don’t like it, they say there is nothing to do here, but I like it,” Villines said. “You can get your mind to focus on school and ball and stay out of trouble.”

Bluefield (29-12) which will close out its home schedule tonight against Virginia Intermont and this weekend with three games with Cumberland, is eyeing a Mid-South Conference postseason berth, with hopes for a long postseason run.

“We have got one of the best teams, in my opinion,” Villines said. “We have had a little bit of stuff here and there that has cost us some games, but I think we have done well and I think we will do well.”

Especially if they take Villines’ philosophy on the diamond.

“Just take it day by day, try not to get caught up in who we are playing and the stats,” Villines said. “I think that is where a lot of people get caught up.

“They worry too much about the other team and who they are playing and who they got and what they are facing instead of just taking it day by day and having fun.”  

—Contact Brian Woodson

bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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