Athlete of the week: Tucker Morrell, Elk River, baseball: Head in the game

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Tucker Morrell’s wide-ranging contributions make him a valuable guy for   Elk baseball even if he doesn’t have any robust stats in particular.

“Tucker fills so many roles for us — pitching, leadoff man, defense, leadership,” said coach Ryan Holmgren. “He is highly-regarded by coaching staffs as a captain and role model. He’s the only pitcher that I let call his own game. He has the most innings pitched and at the plate he gets a lot of walks because he’s such a smart hitter.”

Tucker Morrell is a team leader and reliable infielder, pitcher and leadoff batter for the Elks. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

The 5-foot-9, 145-pound righthander has a 4-4 pitching record and 3.77 ERA for the 9-11 Elks in 42.7 innings with 22 strikeouts, 17 walks. Gritty and crafty, he gives you a quality start most of the time.

A singles hitter with a .261 average, 11 run and four RBI, he has a keen batting eye and discipline that have earned him 18 walks and a .469 on-base-percentage.  “I stand close to the plate and I take a lot of pitches,” said Morrell. “I’m not afraid to hit with two strikes.”

In the field, at pitcher, second base and shortstop, he’s made only three errors in 69 chances.

Tucker works closely with his brother Porter, a junior. They were the guards in basketball and Porter has been his catcher two years. He says Porter has always been “the best and most fun teammate o play with” and the association has been very helpful in keeping each other encouraged and sharp. Tucker asked to call his own pitches “because Porter and I have a good system going.”

His top thrills in baseball are his 2-1 victory against No. 9 ranked Coon Rapids and its ace pitcher in this year’s opener, and his two-run single with bases loaded that helped the Elks beat Duluth  Denfield 5-1 in sectionals last year.

As a sophomore on a 1-20 team, Morrell started at shortstop and didn’t bat. Last year, he hit .305 with 11 runs, seven RBI and  17 walks on an 8-14 team.  He  got hit hard at times but had a 3-3 record in 32 innings.

In basketball, Morrell scored 8.4 points per game as a junior and 9.7 as a senior, and ranks sixth on the Elk career list with 120 three-point shots. He led the team this year with 56 three’s and 35 percent accuracy along, with 82 percent on free shots (41-for-50). He led  in charges taken each year.

His behind-the-arc archery included six trifecta’s in a win over Armstrong his junior year, and a pair of memorable nights this past December – 6-for-7 for 22 points when the Elks beat Centennial for coach Randy Klasen’s 400th win, and two bulls-eyes in the last 22 seconds to beat Coon Rapids 76-73.

The Elks were 7-20 his junior year but 14-13 his senior year.

“We knew we had to step up,” he said.

Klasen praised Morrell, a co-captain, for “great attitude and great effort,” adding that  Morrell was mainly an outside threat as a junior but improved his ballhanding and got to the  line more as a senior to take advantage of his free-throw accuracy.

Morrell plans to continue baseball at Anoka- Ramsey.

THE MORRELL SCORECARD

Tucker Morrell

Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Trent and Brenda; brothers Porter, 17; Wyatt, 13; and Stewart, 10 … Sports: basketball, baseball …  Academics: 3.603 GPA (home-schooled) …. Other activities: Fellowship of Christian Athletes … College plans: Anoka-Ramsey, baseball, major undecided, get coaching certificate

Favorite stuff — TV show: “Sports Center” …. Movie: “The Final Season” … Food: prime rib, steak … Drink: Gatorade purple … Music: country, especially Brantley Gilbert  … Reading: outdoor magazines, game warden books …. Teams: Florida football, Texas A&M basketball … Athlete: Tim Tebow … Kickback: hunting geese, deer, turke

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