Bulldog baseball grows with new coach

·3 min read

Jun. 12—NEW WAVERLY — New Waverly baseball was facing a tall task after losing eight seniors and their head coach after the 2021 season, but the Dogs didn't waver.

The Bulldogs were able to grab the third seed from the district 23, 3A field where they made the playoffs under new head coach Rodney Morphew.

"It was a work in progress from day one," Morphew said. "We knew going in that we graduated eight really good seniors from the year before. We knew we had a strong player in Brett Adams but we didn't know where the other eight guys were going to come from. We had three seniors coming back but they had limited innings and we had a bunch of juniors that played for me last year."

While the Dogs knew they had seven of the nine roster spots filled, there were still two spots that needed to be assigned and several underclassmen to fill them with.

New Waverly found that with both Lane Fortune and Cade Garrett who were both freshmen. Garrett was also named the District 23, 3A Newcomer of the Year.

Fortune became the Bulldog's everyday second baseman and even saw some time on the mound. He would throw 8.2 innings in his three games on the mound with just one earned run.

"Lane Fortune was a surprise for me," Morphew said. "We knew about him during football and we knew he was a tough kid but to see him rise to be one of our top players was a good thing to happen."

Pitching was also something the Bulldogs did not lack this season. They had 10 pitchers take the mound to face batters, only two were seniors.

Senior Bryce Jonhston will be one of the two pitchers the Bulldogs will lose to graduation. In his senior year, he pitched 27.2 innings which was second most on the team.

With the leadership that the seniors brought, they also gave the other kids a different form of lessons. The Bulldogs carried nine underclassmen on their roster allowing them to get varsity experience and to see what the top-level pitchers have to offer.

"It was one of those things that you hope happens," Morphew said. "You hope the older kids take ownership but to have a young man come in and be a force not only on the mound but all around."

Besides Garrett, New Waverly got Fortune, Austin Dowies and Korbin Wale over 20 games of work with each nabbing over 70 plate appearances in those games. For the younger group, this experience will lead them to more in the following years.

Those four guys took an average of a .245 from their underclassmen experience.

"It's invaluable to have that experience under their belt," Morphew said. "If we were to have any older kids some of those guys wouldn't have gotten the at-bats at the varsity level. When they get that experience from seeing the varsity level pitchers, especially early on in the season. Virtually every team we saw during the tournament season made the playoffs. When you see that kind of pitching early on, it's invaluable."

New Waverly's season ended after a trip to the bi-district round of the playoffs but with all but three members able to return the future is bright.

"I'm excited to see the future of New Waverly baseball," Morphew added. "We have three strong classes stacked together and the incoming freshmen are strong too. The outlook for New Waverly baseball is going to be bright."