The swing is technically perfect. It was honed over endless hours of practice. But it’s not just the swing that turned Brian Morrell into Long Island’s big bopper this spring. It’s the mental approach.
Morrell, a junior at Shoreham-Wading River, has drilled a Long Island-leading 10 home runs, after clubbing six round trippers last week in a four-game span.
“I’m seeing the ball really well and getting some great swings on it,” said Morrell. “The key to my success at the plate has been the ability to recognize and swing at good pitches. My pitch selection has improved and the home runs just happen.”
For his performance Morrell was named Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. Morrell crushed six home runs between May 5 and May 12.
In the first game of a doubleheader, he homered twice and drove in three runs in a 9-1 win over East Hampton. And in the second game, although homerless, he did his damage on the mound where he struck out 19 batters in a 3-0 win.
“He’s an all-around player,” said Shoreham-Wading River centerfielder Alex Bettenhauser. “He’s either getting the key hits, pitching a gem or playing a great shortstop. Brian is an excellent teammate and a leader. Even if he’s having an off game, which is rare, he’s keeping the guys up and that’s important.”
Morrell continued his torrid hitting in a 10-2 win over Hampton Bays in which he went 3-for-4 with two home runs, a triple and five RBIs. In an 8-0 win over Hampton Bays the next day, he added two more homers and four RBIs. His 10 home runs breaks Eric Strovink’s school record of nine set in 1987.
“I do a lot of work with Keith Osik on my hitting,” Morrell said of the former major leaguer who teaches hitting on Long Island. “And he goes beyond the swing. We talk a lot about approach and plan and plate discipline. It really helps me focus on every at bat.”
The 17-year-old Morrell, who has verbally committed to play baseball at Notre Dame, was hitting .471 with 33 RBIs after Wednesday’s game against Rocky Point. He’ll attend the Area Code Games this summer as the professional scouts have started ringing his phone. He’ll also play in the East Coast Pro tournament with the Texas Rangers’ scout team in Tampa this July.
Morrell suffered his first pitching loss Wednesday as Shoreham-Wading River fell, 3-1, to Rocky Point in the Suffolk Class A playoffs. His record dropped to 5-1 with two no decisions and 85 strikeouts. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and was still upbeat last night.
“We’re not done at all,” he said. “Tomorrow’s another day and we’ll be ready for our next playoff opponent.”