Eye on the prize

Morse looks to become softball royalty at Queen of Diamonds Showcase

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com There's little down time during a Carolina Rebels 16U practice. Even while waiting her turn, Cher Morse swings a bat to stay loose but focused.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
There’s little down time during a Carolina Rebels 16U practice. Even while waiting her turn, Cher Morse swings a bat to stay loose but focused.

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

LAURINBURG — On a Thursday night practice of the Carolina Rebels 16U softball team at Spring Hill Middle School, Cher Morse might not be the best ballplayer of the nine on the field.

She might not even be the best middle infielder.

But 15-year-old Rockingham girl and incoming Richmond Senior High School sophomore, along with three teammates, have been accepted into the Queen of Diamonds Showcase South event Aug. 30 and Aug. 31 at Winthrop University Rock Hill, S.C. It’s a premier, situation-based program that allows each player plenty of opportunities to shine in the field and at the plate.

There were more than 1,500 applicants from 19 states and Canada. A total of 264 athletes were selected and Morse is one of 24 second basemen selected. She will be the only second baseman on Team 20. Her teammates that weekend will be from Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, North Carolina and Canada.

Make no mistake, Rebels co-coach Dee Harris said: Morse is good. Very good. She’s one of the most athletic players on her team — she also plays at short stop and third base. She can hit and has a better-than-average arm, Harris said. And she can run.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Speed is not one of Cher's main concerns; she has it, as evidenced by this practice drill in which she begins the defensive exercise on her stomach and must jump up and react to where the ball is hit.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Speed is not one of Cher’s main concerns; she has it, as evidenced by this practice drill in which she begins the defensive exercise on her stomach and must jump up and react to where the ball is hit.

“She could easily go out and compete on an 18U level right now,” Harris said. “Her work ethic is above normal.”

But it takes more than being very good to get the attention of coach coaches and earn a coveted offer of an NCAA Division I scholarship. Wanting to play at that level, Harris said, there is more to the process than how well you play the game of softball. There’s a lot of marketing involved.

Harris talked of Winthrop University being a stage on which Morse can perform. Exceed expectations and she could get noticed just two weeks from now. Letters of interest could begin pouring in.

“It’s our job as her coaches to prepare ’em for the stage,” Harris said of her role, as well as co-coach Justin Womack and two assistants.

High school ball, Harris said, is an opportunity for players to win conference awards and earn school honors, but there’s a limit to visibility. College coaches don’t attend high school games.

“They’re not gonna get seen in high school ball,” Harris said. “Our goal is for our girls to get seen.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Defense is one of Cher Morse's strengths.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Defense is one of Cher Morse’s strengths.

Morse is not flawless. She doesn’t have the strongest arm — the shortstop has a cannon — she struggles when grounders are hit to her right side, in her words, “I think too much.”

But Morse said she aims for the game to be a part of her life for a long time to come. That professional career path could begin in as little as two weeks.

“It’s a step up from (normal) showcase” tournaments in which the Rebels regularly play in the region, Morse said. “It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about situations.”

At Winthrop University, each inning will begin with a runner on first. Morse and every other batter will have an automatic 1-1 count when they approach the plate. And the coaches in charge of each team can change the scenario at any time.

Morse aspires to follow softball to college and beyond — one way or another. If playing in college or beyond doesn’t work out, she plans to become an athletic trainer.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Cher Morse concentrates during a quick-toss batting session.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Cher Morse concentrates during a quick-toss batting session.

“I wanna play college,” she said. “If I get the chance to go pro … if I don’t, I’ll be an athletic trainer. I just want to stay in sports.”

Though it’s too early for Morse to select a college — and, after all, the showcase process is about colleges selecting her — East Carolina University might have a leg up on the competition. That’s because Morse has had family attend ECU in the past.

Morse, a Richmond Thunder program graduate, previously was selected to the Region 4 PowerAde State Games at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She maintains a 4.4 grade point average as a Raider and is ranked 22nd in a class of 533.

It’s her first season with the Rebels — Womack and Harris scouted her and handpicked her, along with all the other team members. Play began in late May. So far, so good, Morse said.

“I love this team,” Morse said. “They are trying to help you get to that next level. They’ll work you.”

 

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  • Julia Morse

    So glad to be able to read this article about my grand daughter Cher. We are so proud of Cher and all that she has accomplished over the pass several years. A special THANK YOU to the coaches that have helped Cher through out her softball years, especially the last 4 or more years.

  • Shannon Boweers

    Go Cher!!! You are an awesome lady, inside and out!! I love this story and look forward to seeing you in the news for years to come! You are precious to all the Bowers…we love you!

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