Dudley E. Dawson is a reporter for Hawgs Illustrated. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Morris hopes to make immediate impact
When Cabot left-hander Zack Morris arrives at Arkansas this summer, it will be with the mindset to make a significant impact during the 2020 Razorbacks baseball season.
Morris' confidence is bolstered by what he's seen out of a pair of fellow former Arkansas Sticks summer baseball standouts in Patrick Wicklander and Connor Noland during their true freshmen seasons at Arkansas.
"Seeing two freshmen who actually played for the Sticks do what they have for Arkansas this season, it is truly a confidence booster, and it makes me think I might work my way into the rotation as a freshman and make a big impact on the team right away," Morris said.
That excitement grew this past weekend as he watched the Razorbacks win the Fayetteville Regional with two wins over TCU and a victory over Central Connecticut State.
"I was not at the regional games, but the atmosphere/crowd was so electric that I got chills just hearing the hog calls and the fans yelling through the TV," Morris said.
Morris (6-foot-3, 211 pounds), who went 11-4 with a 2.08 ERA and 172 strikeouts in 141 innings in his high school career, notes most of the Razorbacks' 2019 recruiting class have plans to report to Fayetteville in July.
"I have talked to a lot of the guys, especially the pitchers, and I know a lot of us are coming up in early July to start summer school, start workouts with the strength coach and just start bonding with our coaches and our teammates," Morris said. "I think that will be huge for all of us."
Morris throws his fastball is in the low 90s and has mastery of two other pitches. He has been a Razorback fan since he was young and wanted to play at Arkansas for a long time.
"My whole family has been huge Razorback fans forever, so it's not surprising that I dreamed of growing up to play for Arkansas," Morris said. "The fact that the opportunity is coming true has me really excited about the future."
That includes this season as Arkansas (44-20) is looking to make a return trip to the College World Series if it can take down Ole Miss (40-25) in the Super Regional beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday.
"I think people were sleeping on Arkansas this year with (pitchers) Blaine Knight, Kacey Murphy and all those moving on and Isaiah Campbell moving up to be the Friday starter," Morris said. "We needed some people to step up, and that's just what happened.
"Our baseball program is a great one, and we had a good starting rotation this year, and the offense behind it has just been great."
Morris formed a close bond with former Arkansas pitching coach Wes Johnson, who left after last season to take over the same position for the Minnesota Twins.
But he has gotten to know current Razorback pitching coach Matt Hobbs over the past year and feels good about working with him once he gets to Fayetteville.
"When he first got the job, he sent me a text that he had seen some videos of me and was impressed by them," Morris said. "That made me feel good that he came in and right away got with me.
"We have texted and talked throughout the season and ended up going to watch a few of the Razorback games in Fayetteville and got to talk to him and get to know him more. He is a real cool guy, and I am looking forward to being coached by him."
Morris thinks his fastball will be in the mid-90s as he gets into a college workout program. He used his fastball, curveball and change-up liberally this season.
Morris was 3-0 as a senior in 13 appearances allowing only 19 earned runs and fanning 71 in 60 innings of work.
Cabot (23-6) fell to Springdale Har-Ber 3-2 in the Class 6A state tournament semifinals.
"As a team, my class, out of the four years that we have been together, we won 20 games every season, so that is quite an accomplishment for our program," Morris said. "We came up short at the end, but it was still a great season, and we had no regrets at the end of the year."
Sports on 06/06/2019
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