Trey Morrill has a decision to make, but at least he has options.
The Fruita Monument High School graduate, who has pitched at Yavapai College (Arizona) the past two seasons, saw his sophomore season cut short when the NJCAA canceled the spring sports season amid COVID-19 concerns.
He’s signed to play at Colorado Mesa next season, but when both the NCAA and NJCAA halted the season, both entities granted another year of eligibility to spring sports athletes, so Morrill has three full seasons remaining to play.
“I’ve got a lot of decisions right now and I’m not making one right away,” Morrill said as he drove back to the Grand Valley from Prescott, Arizona. With classes switching to online the rest of the semester, the Roughriders packed up and headed for home.
“I’ve talked with Coach (Chris) Hanks at CMU and I’ve talked to Coach (Ryan) Coughill at Yavapai and it kind of looks like I’m going to be going to CMU and take the three years at CMU.”
Unless things change, Morrill will give up on his dream of suiting up in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series in his hometown.
“I told the guys every day, ‘We’ve got somewhere to be. This is special, we can do this,’ and everyone was on board with it,” Morrill said. “The worst part about it is it’s out of our hands this year. Last year we had the chance to win (the Western District) and come to JUCO. That’s a little bit better, I guess, than feeling like it got stripped from you.”
Morrill isn’t blaming anyone for the circumstances and said it was the right decision for the NJCAA to scrub the season, although he wishes it didn’t happen.
He pitched in six games in the abbreviated season, making four starts, for the Roughriders, and was 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA, striking out 25 batters in 26 1/3 innings. Yavapai was 22-3 and tied for fourth in the national rankings.
“It’s tough knowing with the team we had, the special talent and all the tools we had to do something special,” he said. “The season, playoffs and hopefully JUCO. It’s a hard bullet to bite, for sure.”
However, Morrill knows there’s no sense looking back and dwelling on the lost season. Once he decompresses from a head-spinning few days and the stay-at-home order lifts, he plans to get back to work.
“There are a lot of opportunities to get better in this extended offseason, if you want to call it that, or whatever it is,” he said. “You can’t ever take that chance to get better for granted, so I’m going to capitalize on that stuff.”
Summer collegiate teams are up in the air, so Morrill is not sure if he’ll play this summer, but that won’t stop him from throwing bullpen sessions and some live batting practice to keep his arm in shape.
“I talked to Jax Nourse (who plays at Colorado Mesa) and he said he wants to work out with me during this time, maybe throw some live BP to him so he gets better at recognizing pitches and seeing where his zone is and where his pitches are and me facing hitters as well,” Morrill said. “There’s a lot that can happen. I’m just playing it by ear.”
And even though he’s trying to make the best of the situation, Morrill can’t help but think of what might have been.
“It’s been difficult for sure, not just for Yavapai, but for every team that has a chance to do well,” he said.
“The top five teams were incredible this year. JUCO would have been a crazy experience for the fans, the teams there. The fans would have had great games to watch. There’s been a lot of errors in the past, but looking at the numbers of the other teams, it looks like it was bound to be a great tournament.
“We had two Fruita Monument guys on the team (catcher Tyler Boggs and Morrill) and three (Western Slope players) with KJ Seriani (from Paonia). The homecoming would have been great. It’s just tough luck. We felt like we had all the tools, but there was something out there that said we don’t need to be doing it.
“There’s something better out there for us, I guess.”