Morrill makes most of senior baseball season at Keene State
KEENE, N.H. 5/16/12 – Tuesday didn’t turn out to be such a good day for Kyle Morrill and Keene State College baseball. The senior from Auburn, N.H., scored the Owls’ only run and went 0-4 at the plate in the team’s 7-1 opening-round loss to Western New England University at the NCAA baseball tournament being held in Mansfield, Conn.
The news wasn’t all bad for Morrill. Later in the day, the Keene State center fielder was named to the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) All-New England team. A first-team selection, Morrill, who also received All-Little East honors the day before, is putting the finishing touches on his Keene State career with a stellar senior season.
Switching between middle infield positions as a freshman and spending the past two seasons shuttling between shortstop and the outfield, Morrill finally found a permanent home in center field for the Owls this season. “Kyle is such a great athlete, we could’ve put him in at catcher or pitcher and he’d get the job done,” said KSC coach Ken Howe. “This year we left Kyle in center field and I think that gave him a little peace of mind. He’s having an incredible year.”
Morrill concurs. “It’s definitely a peace of mind thing – you know when you show up to the park that your name going to be on the line-up card and you’re going to be in center field,” he said. “It’s given me an opportunity to focus on my hitting, and that’s paid off – especially this year.”
Yesterday notwithstanding, Morrilll has been deliberate at the dish this season, getting at least one hit in 32 of the 39 games he’s started, including 22 multiple-hit games. His .431 batting average leads the Little East. He’s also among the top five in the conference in hits (66), runs (50), RBIs (44), triples (7), and total bases (97).
As one of nine seniors on the team, Morrill says he tries to lead by example. “You can say, ‘Rah rah, let’s go team,’ but if you don’t actually do it on the field it doesn’t mean anything,” Morrill said. “I always tried to lead by example whether it’s coming up with a big hit, a sacrifice bunt, or a big defensive play in the field – whatever it takes to get the team a win.”
In addition to his impressive numbers at the plate, Morrill has also flashed some leather in the field, committing just one error. “I nominated him for a Gold Glove award,” said Howe. “The one error he had this year was a dropped ball in the sun in Florida that should have been scored a base hit.”
“I take a lot of pride in my defense,” said Morrill. “I want to be looked at as an all-around player.”
Morrill played a variety of sports growing up in Manchester, N.H. In addition to soccer, football, and baseball, he also was the right wing on his Manchester Memorial High School hockey team for a year, ran sprint races on the track team, and was a three-year member of the Crusaders golf team.
But baseball always drew at his heartstrings. “It was something I just fell in love with early on in life,” said Morrill.
Morrill had plenty of hardball help along the way, tutored in the sport by his grandfather Austin, his father Ken, and older brother Curt. “There’s definitely a love for the game in the Morrill family,” said Kyle.
Morrill played one year of JV ball for Memorial before being called up to the varsity as a sophomore. Splitting time between the mound and short at the time, Morrill saw limited playing time on a Crusader team that went on to capture the State (Class L) championship with a win over Bishop Guertin at Fisher Cats Stadium.
The following year, Morrill was a member of the Sweeney Post American Legion baseball team that won the state title and advanced to the regional tournament in Vermont.
Seeded 15th in the Class L tournament his senior year, the Crusaders upset No. 2 seed Keene High and No. 7 seed Pinkerton before falling to eventual champion Goffstown in the semifinals. Keene State coaches Marty Testo and Ken Howe were in attendance at the Memorial-Pinkerton game and watched Morrill come through with a couple of hits.
Although Morrill, a district Academic All-American history major, never took the mound for Keene State, his contribution at the plate and in the field has elevated the Owls into the regional and national polls and NCAA appearances in two of his four seasons.
Hoping to prolong his college career with a win against Bridgewater State at the NCAA tournament on Tuesday, Morrill will join teammate Jeff Pelkey on the Keene Blue Jays coaching staff this summer.
“I met a great bunch of guys here and I couldn’t ask for more,” said Morrill. “The coaching staff, my professors, and everyone I met helped me and made it that much more enjoyable to be here.”