By CONOR NICHOLL
A constant all summer for the Hays Larks, Jason Morriss capped a solid year with several highlight reel plays and plenty of offense at the National Baseball Congress World Series.
Morriss, the Larks' second baseman, was the lone Hays player to earn NBC All-American Team honors as the Larks finished 5-2 and tied for fourth in the season-ending tournament. It's the fourth straight year Hays has had a player named to the All-America team.
The Jayhawk League, which had four teams finish in the top 10, including World Series winner El Dorado, had nine players named to the All-America team. El Dorado ace Jake Sabol collected tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
Morriss, a Queensland, Australia, native and an Angelo State (Texas) University product, batted .296 with a homer and two RBIs in seven tournament games. He was one of 12 players (14 total homers) to hit a homer at the World Series. Morriss also tied for third with five steals.
Defensively, though, Morriss set himself apart.
On the spongy artificial turf at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, he collected 25 assists, tied for second, and committed one error. His .973 fielding percentage ranked third among players with at least 15 chances. His defense helped Hays turn 10 double plays, tied with El Dorado for the tournament high.
"You definitely have to focus a lot more," Morriss said of playing on the artificial turf. "Read the bounce of the ball. It's a lot quicker, too, so you have get ready every pitch, a little bit extra and really focus."
In a loss to Conejo (Calif.) Oaks, Morriss made four strong defensive plays.
"I thought Jason Morriss had an excellent game defensively," Larks manager Frank Leo said.
In the fifth, Conejo had the bases loaded with two outs when Jarred Frierson hit a ground ball up the middle. Morriss back-handed the ball on a short hop near second base, turned and made the throw.
"An outstanding play," Leo said. "That ball leaves the bat -- and I have seen him make that play before -- it looks like it is going into center field and a couple RBIs and he snags it and we get out of that jam."
In the seventh, Morriss fielded a ground ball deep in the hole between first and second, a play he labeled "probably" his best all summer. Morriss ranged to his left, and with his momentum going away from first base and toward right field, turned and made the throw to first. His toss beat the Oaks' Kyle Jones by a step.
"To be able to stop and make that flip throw, that is pretty tough," Leo said.
Overall, Morriss compiled a .312/374/430 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) line this summer.
He led Hays in games played (47), starts (47), at-bats (186), doubles (13), runs (33) and assists (149). Morriss finished second with 58 hits, 26 RBIs and tied for second with three homers.