After spending his high school career baffling hitters on the dusty mounds of Suffolk County, it won’t be long until Shoreham-Wading River’s Brian Morrell takes his low-90s fastball and “major league-ready” curveball to one of the most iconic campuses in the entire country: Notre Dame.
Morrell signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Notre Dame on Nov. 9. The defending Carl Yastrzemski Award winner, who is a senior, struck out 93 batters in 55 innings while going 5-2 last season. At the plate, he led Long Island with 12 home runs and 28 RBIs. He batted .405 with 30 runs scored and 30 hits, half for extra bases.
Morrell, a senior, verbally committed to Notre Dame as a sophomore and said he never wavered from his original decision.
“I felt Notre Dame was the best school academically and athletically,” Morrell said. “The coaching staff was just great to me. I was thankful to commit.”
Morrell said his recruiting process began in the eighth grade and, by sophomore year, he was ready for the process of selecting a Division I program to come to a close.
“I felt like it was time to commit and know where I was going to go,” he said. “I pictured myself at Notre Dame.”
Morrell’s signing is not only a great thing for the righthander but a boon for the entire Shoreham-Wading River program as well, coach Kevin Willi said.
“It’s great for us,” Willi said. “It’s great for a lot of other kids on the team too, because they see a player that’s been a star for us for the last five years. It’s good for them to see him get rewarded with such an awesome signing.”
With four solid varsity seasons under his belt, Willi said that the 6-1, 190-pound Morrell is rapidly maturing as a pitcher, not letting small mistakes turn into big innings.
“He’s mixing up his pitches, hitting spots,” Willi said. “If someone rips a double off him, he comes back to the next guy like nothing happened. His emotional level on the mound is more consistent then it has been in years past. I think that’s his ticket to the next level. He’s got major-league stuff in high school, but the next level for him is going to be those intangibles that I’ve seen him improve on.”
Notre Dame finished last season 27-27 and 11-17 in the ACC.
Although Willi acknowledged the assumed learning curve associated with the jump from high school to college, he does expect Morrell to contribute rather quickly.
“He’s played some really high-level summer ball where everybody is Division I college-bound,” Willi said. “The competition for that is going to be on par with the freshman class in college. As a freshman, I think he’ll get some time. They’re definitely going to have somebody with ability in the mix and I think he’ll get a fair shot to play his first year.”
Lacrosse signings continue. Two-time defending Class C state champion Cold Spring Harbor had no shortage of signings this fall. Attackman Ian Laviano signed with Virginia, midfielder Taylor Strough signed with Fairfield and goalie Dylan Guaneri inked with Manhattan.
On the girls side, Middle Country had two players commit to Division I programs. Jamie Ortega, a senior who scored 82 goals and had 46 assists last year, will attend North Carolina. Teammate Ava Barry chose Boston College.