Tuesday, June 12, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Good guy finally gets his due

Leader sportswriter

Bryson Morris reacted to the news that his planned feature article had been bumped back one edition due to the Major-League drafting of Sam Bates with a simple shrug and a smile.

Of course, the recent Cabot graduate has plenty to smile about these days with a coveted college offer from Arkansas Tech. Although he has not yet secured a full athletic scholarship with the Wonder Boys program, his versatility in baseball, not to mention outstanding high-school grades, got his foot in the door following a two-day tryout.

His baseball days at Cabot are winding down as a starting outfielder/pitcher for Craig Nyborg’s Centennial Bank senior American Legion team after what can only be described as a dismal spring for the Panthers baseball team.

The Cabot Legion team also started out slow with seven straight losses, but Morris and his teammates have picked up the pace as of late with three-straight victories.

“We’re finally having fun,” Morris said. “At first, we weren’t really into it, but actually, the past three games, we’ve been having fun and relaxing–playing better. We weren’t really playing as a team at first.”

Morris said the residual effects of an unsuccessful spring carried over into the beginning of summer. The Panthers failed to qualify for the 7A state tournament, but Morris and his fellow grads, including T.C. Carter and Justin Goff, plan on finishing on a strong note.

“We’re going to make it,” Morris said. “We’ve got a good shot. But mainly, it’s to get ready for the high-school season, and for us, college.”

Bryson is the oldest of three children for Brian and Barbara Morris and the only boy. He was also a standout on the Panthers football team under long-time coach Mike Malham, starting at safety with some time under center as a backup quarterback. Away from sports, Morris enjoys playing guitar with an emphasis on classic rock and blues.

He became a starter for the Panthers baseball team during his junior year. He was named all conference that season, and though he was not able to earn that honor again as a senior, Morris did lead the team in singles.

“Bryson, one thing he had going for him was good grades,” Cabot Panthers coach Jay Fitch said. “His score on the ACT helped him. Arkansas Tech had a two-day tryout and offered him a spot. We were really proud to get him on there. It makes him the No. 40 kid to sign on with a college.”

His early-season stats with the Centennial Bank team are solid so far this summer with four hits, eight runs and two RBIs through 16 at bats. He also leads the team in walks with seven through the first six games.

“He’s a good athlete,” Fitch said. “He can run pretty well, and I think he’s having a pretty good summer on the Legion side. Bryson is another one of those where you don’t have to worry about him messing up.”

The Centennial Bank legion team still has over half the summer to go, and while many of their games this summer will feature local opponents Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet and Sylvan Hills, there is still the season-ending zone tournament and the potential to play in the state Legion tournament in late July.

Regardless of the outcome of these final weeks in his last year of Cabot baseball, the experience as a whole has been a positive one for Morris.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” Morris said. “I like all of my teammates. They work hard, they try their best, and are very supportive. I’ve had fun playing with them.”