Mary Morgan had a really good season for the Meade County Lady Waves.
And, as good as that season was, there is still something gnawing at her.
“I would love to get out of region before I graduate,” she said.
The Lady Waves have won back-to-back 11th District Tournament championships and been bounced in the first round of the 3rd Region Tournament both times.
“This group that is playing together has been playing together since we were little,” Morgan said. “We talk to each other and bring each other up and when we talk to each other it’s not awkward if somebody has something to say. Having that background with each other makes it more fun.
“I know what they’re like and I want to do it for them even more.”
Morgan was a workhorse inside the circle, going 24-11 with a 1.73 ERA in 206 innings pitched. She totaled 254 strikeouts, 40 walks and a .943 fielding percentage.
For her efforts, Morgan has been selected The News-Enterprise All-Area Sophomore of the Year.
Morgan was a runaway winner, garnering six first-place votes and 30 points. Central Hardin’s Macey Martin finished second with 16 points and Elizabethtown’s Trista Colasanti third with 12 points and one first-place vote.
“We knew keeping her healthy was key for us,” second-year Meade County coach Penny Reece said.
Morgan missed her eighth-grade season because of a problem with her right shoulder and also missed three weeks last season with the same problem.
“I think I just overused it a bit,” she said. “When I sat out last year I didn’t do anything for three weeks. Nothing at all. Throughout summer ball it didn’t bother me. When I came into this year it was always in the back of my mind. I tried not to let it bother me. I tried to avoid thinking about it and just go with the flow of things.
“It was more of a mental thing than it necessarily hurts. At the beginning of the season it was a little scarier. Toward the end, it was just like, it’s fine. It was out of my head.”
Reece said there were many discussions with Morgan.
“She learned that she had to be honest with us about her shoulder,” the coach said. “If it hurt at all she was to let the coaches know. She’s a tough kid. She’s one of those who does not want to come out. We learned last year than you have to be smart about that. There were a few games where we were in control this year and she said, ‘I really feel fine and I want to finish.’ I admire that.
“We play a very competitive schedule and there were not a lot of places on the schedule we felt we could do without her.”
Morgan and Reece said the pitcher also benefited from new assistant coach Ashley Nikolao.
The 2014 Meade County graduate was the 2012 All-Area Player and Sophomore of the Year. She went to the University of Louisville where she spent a lot of time dealing with injuries.
“I definitely understand pitching sequences a lot more than I did as a freshman,” Morgan said. “We talked a lot about pitching. We were really interactive with each other. There was a lot of communication between us. I really like having her.
“Between innings we would talk about pitches she called and I pitched and I would say, ‘This is working. This feels good. Let’s maybe not do this.’ During a game I would ask questions of why we were doing this and she was up front and honest. She didn’t sugarcoat anything.”
Her year at the plate was pretty good, too.
She hit .440 with 55 hits, 34 RBIs, 17 doubles, three home runs and struck out five times.
“She is a very hard-working kid,” Reece said. “There’s some natural talent there, obviously. When you devote yourself to pitching, that’s a whole different ballgame. When other kids leave the field, more time is required in that position. I love that she loves the competition. She has a drive to be on that mound. She wants the ball in her hand. I forget sometimes that she’s just a sophomore.”
Morgan agreed with the “she wants the ball in her hand” thing.
“When I would watch college softball I would see pitchers and just say, ‘Wow, that’s good,’” Morgan said. “I started in my back yard a little bit, but it didn’t become a reality until I was 12. After throwing around in the year, I said ‘I want to do this’ and I’ve been set on it since.
“I like to be in control. I like things going my way. I know it sounds bad, but I like being involved in every play. I want to know that I’m doing something on every pitch to help my team win.”
Reece lost three players to graduation off the 27-11 squad and is looking forward to next season, led by Morgan.
“Mary is one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever been around,” said Reece, who spent 20 years as the coach at Greenwood. “I do talk to her about some of the really good pitchers I had at Greenwood and how to take her game to the next level. She’s a mature kid. She’s eager. She wants to learn and to continue to improve.
“With two more years to go on the mound, we’ve gonna provide her with the competition to cause her to raise her game and our game as a program. I don’t think she’s gonna disappoint in any way in the next couple of years.”