Jul. 29—Any time Kaydence Morse needs to work off stress or brush up on her athletics skills, she steps outside her home and onto the softball field installed in her backyard.
Morse, who plays catcher for Oxford Hills, has devoted her high school athletic pursuits to one sport — softball. The junior's exploits at the plate and behind it have earned her the Sun Journal's All-Region Softball Player of the Year.
Morse led the Vikings with seven home runs, 25 hits, 30 RBIs and a .410 batting average, and she played a key role in the regular season and the postseason as third-seeded Oxford Hills (14-4) made a run to the Class A North semifinals.
"She's worked hard. She accepts her role and she is just a team player," Vikings coach Cindy Goddard said. "She will do whatever. If we ask her to play first base, if we ask her to play center field — it doesn't matter — she just loves the game of softball and she will do whatever you ask of her.
"She puts in the time. When you love it, it makes it a lot more fun and a lot easier."
Along with the Vikings, Morse put in time with travel teams through the years. It also doesn't hurt to have a softball field in her backyard. Her father, Christopher, and uncle, Tom Giberti, oversaw the construction of the field. She said two of her three sisters — Kyeria and Karyssa — are softball players.
"That family has four daughters, three right now that are playing softball," Goddard said. "Yeah, they built a softball field in the backyard. They are playing softball all the time.
"She has two younger sisters that pitch, so (Kaydence) is out there catching them. A rivalry amongst siblings is always there."
Morse said her "Field of Dreams" acts like a tension-reliever.
"If I am stressed, I go outside and hit off the tee," she said.
She also enjoys playing the game, and playing alongside her Oxford Hills teammates. She credits the team's chemistry for the success it had this season.
"I had fun," Morse said. "The connection with everybody was good and we were all just pumped in the dugout. Even if it was win or lose, we all had the happiest mindset."
This season was the first time Morse called pitches as the starting catcher. She said the whole experience was exciting but also made her a little apprehensive.
"She switched roles catching, but she was always a (designated hitter)," Goddard said. "I guess she has been a starter two years, but this year she was a starter behind the plate, solely."
"I was really nervous, but I worked really hard ..." Morse added. "I just took over. I understood what needed to happen, and I did it."
Goddard said Morse, who was voted to the All-KVAC first team this season, is equally talented on defense and offense.
"She has learned a lot about having to call the game and what is the weakness of the hitter and what is the pitcher throwing well that day," Goddard said. "She has really come a long way ... commanding the game and calling the game. ... She has a strong arm behind the plate. She has got it all, really."
She certainly makes things happen when she is in the batter's box, too. Her first-inning, three-run home run sparked the Vikings' 10-2 over Camden Hills in a Class A North quarterfinal.
"I liked how Kaydence came right out in the first inning," Goddard said after that game. "We got people on, and she hit a powerful home run, which kind of starts it all."
Morse said she takes a nonchalant approach when it is her turn at-bat.
"I just stay loose and just swing and just have fun out there," she said. "I think I am pretty good at anything I can try to do."
Morse said she is thinking about college, but she is uncertain if she will attend a university after her senior year at Oxford Hills.
"I want to become a truck driver," she said. "So I signed up to get my CDL (commercial driving license) next year, and hopefully I will take that class and get it."
Whatever Morse decides to do, whether it's drive 18-wheelers or something else, she'll bring her work ethic and be a team player.
"(Kaydence) just jumps right in; she is a worker," Goddard said. "She is willing to do whatever you ask her to do to make the team better."