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Feeling at home on the mound

by Ben Fraser March 20, 2018 0 comment
Feeling at home on the mound

Jackson Morgan returned from the U.S. to pitch for the Stingers

When a pitcher’s job is to keep the opposition off-balance with a variety of pitches, it seems fitting that the athlete has a balancing act in his own life. That is the case for Concordia Stingers starting pitcher Jackson Morgan.

The 24-year-old Westmount native began playing competitive baseball as a child and knew he wanted to pursue it from there.

“It was one of the few sports that I actually found myself passionate about,” Morgan said. “Around the age of eight or nine, I knew I wanted to play baseball competitively.” Even from this young age, Morgan knew he would be a pitcher. He throws left, which is an attractive quality in baseball because most pitchers throw right-handed.

“[Coaches] tend to see if you can pitch [as a lefty],” Morgan added. “At a young age, if you’re a lefty and can hit the strike zone, [coaches] encourage you to keep pitching.”

Morgan’s baseball career brought him to Concordia, after playing four years for Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., in the second division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Prior to playing in the NCAA, while at Dawson College, Morgan uploaded a video online of himself, hoping to get recruited. “I didn’t think anything would come of it, but sure enough, I was contacted, and the next year I was playing [at Saint Michael’s College].”

Morgan injured his shoulder and missed his third college season, which was his draft year for Major League Baseball (MLB). Although he was never drafted, Morgan remains thankful for the years he spent in the United States.

jackson morgan

Jackson Morgan pitches left-handed, which isn’t traditional for pitchers. Photo by Ben Fraser.

“I’m happy with the way my baseball career turned out,” he said.

After graduating with a degree in political science from Saint Michael’s College in 2016, Morgan returned to Montreal for his master’s degree, unsure about his baseball future.

“I spoke to [Stingers baseball coach] Howie Schwartz, and he couldn’t have been more encouraging for me to come out and try and see if I fit well with the team,” Morgan said.

It was a decision Morgan wouldn’t regret. “From day one, I knew that I loved [the team] and fit well with [my teammates].” Morgan took the lessons he learned from the NCAA and applied them to the Stingers.

“In the U.S, I played against bigger, faster and stronger players, and it forces you to […] play smarter […] and outthink hitters and apply the more mental aspect of the game,” the second-year player said. The experience that Morgan gained has made him a leader on the current Stingers roster, speaking to younger players and sharing advice—something he loves to do. Yet, when Morgan chose to return to Montreal, athletics weren’t his priority.

“I tried to make baseball not a priority for the first time in my life,” Morgan said. “Throughout the first year of my master’s, I didn’t even play. I didn’t contact any of the coaches; I didn’t want [baseball] to interfere with my academics.” However, by his second year, Morgan was on the team. “Ultimately, I’m so happy with my decision to play at Concordia.”

Morgan, who is completing a master’s degree in public policy and public administration while playing baseball for the Stingers, calls it a balancing act.

“It’s tough […] at the end of the day it’s about managing your time,” Morgan said. “In the States, I would play 30 to 40 hours a week […] The skills [of time management] that I learned during my undergraduate degree really helped me.”

This past season, Morgan started four games for the Stingers while maintaining a 3.71 earned run average (ERA). The Stingers offence didn’t score many runs for Morgan when he was on the hill, something Morgan takes in stride. “Sometimes, I find it easier to get your job done when hitters aren’t getting their jobs done,” he said. “It means there’s a pitcher’s duel taking place. It’s easier to keep a good tempo. You’re in the dugout for five to 10 minutes and then you’re right back on the field.”

Most athletes have players they look up to, and Morgan is no different. When he was a child, former Montreal Expos pitcher and baseball Hall of Fame member Pedro Martinez was dominating Major League Baseball (MLB). Morgan said Martinez was a major influence on how he developed his game.

“As a short but powerful man, he had an explosive delivery,” Morgan said. “I really loved the violent, aggressive nature of his [pitching] motion.” Morgan throws a handful of pitches, including a curveball—a pitch Martinez used to dominate baseball with.

The Stingers baseball season only runs in the fall, so right now, it’s their off-season. The off-season, while important for training and developing new skills, presents a unique opportunity to rest.

“In my experience, [the off-season is] a great time to relax and stop throwing,” Morgan added. “That’s a great opportunity to get into the gym and work on [weak points] and give yourself better stats going into next year.”

Morgan and the rest of the Stingers baseball team are currently training at the Stingers Dome, and will be primed to challenge the McGill Redmen, who have won four-straight national championships, next season.

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.

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