Tommy Deas

Familiarity breeds respect for Charlotte Morgan and her softball contemporaries

by Tommy Deas May 17, 2010 in Softball

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It’s a small world at the elite level in any sport. The top players, whether it be in football, baseball, basketball, soccer or any other athletic endeavor, have a way of running into each other on and off the field.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Charlotte Morgan, the University of Alabama’s two-time All-American first baseman/pitcher, has some familiarity with the every other finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in her sport. Nor should it be a surprise that she has been impressed by those other nine players who have joined her in making the cut as finalists. Either by casual encounters on the field or getting to know them off the field, whether in college, high school or travel ball, Morgan has met or observed all of her fellow finalists.

So hear the words of the two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year as Morgan shares her impressions:

* On Mississippi State’s Chelsea Bramlett: “Chelsea is just amazing, her speed.”
* On Florida’s Francesca Enea: “I’ll be playing with her this summer in the pro league. She’s a nice girl and a great power hitter.”
* On Alissa Haber of Stanford: “I saw her in the USA (playing for the national team). She’s just a great all-around hitter, a great lefty power hitter.”
* On Becca Heteniak of DePaul: “She’s like me, a pitcher/hitter. To be able to do that in college says a lot, because pitching is a lot of responsibility. You’ve got to work double-time. She’s been great for that program and great for NCAA (softball).”
* On Tennessee’s Tiffany Huff: “I’ve known her since I was younger. She was always the power hitter on Bat Busters (travel team) and I was the power hitter on A’s. She’s a great catcher, great arm, a great competitor every time I see her on the field.”
* On Kentucky’s Molly Johnson: “That girl just blows me away. She’s so calm in the box. I met her mom and her mom is the sweetest. I was like, ‘Your daughter is amazing.’ She’s so smooth. At (shortstop) I’ve never seen someone with a stronger arm than her. She will get a ball in the hole and fire it like Jeter. And she’s a great teammate, always cheering.”
* On UCLA’s Megan Langenfeld: “I played against her since I was younger. We were always competitors because we’re both pitchers and both hitters. I was a little jealous because I didn’t get to hit from the left side and I really wanted to, but she’s a great competitor. She has that fighter in her. She doesn’t look like the fighter, but she continues and keeps getting at it if she’s hitting or pitching.”
* On Michigan’s Nikki Nemitz: “At the World Series last year, she was great. She was all-around. To be a great lefty pitcher and a great lefty hitter is awesome. She throws hard and has great speed. For her to be able to perfect both is huge, and she’s been a big impact for Michigan.”
* On Nicole Pauly of Northwestern: “I don’t really know her as much as the other ones, but when we played them she looked good and seemed like she had a great attitude toward the game.”

Morgan respects the four-fold criteria for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award—competition, classroom, character and community. She knows first-hand about another C-word, commitment, a necessary ingredient to excel in all four areas.

“To be a player and be on that list is someone that understands life, and understands that it’s not all about just softball or just the classroom, it’s about me giving back to the community and being a good person,” she said. “I feel like everyone on that list, it takes a lot of time and a lot of discipline.”

Morgan gives in many ways. Her ability on the field has helped the Alabama Crimson Tide in trying to play its way to a third straight trip to the Women’s College World Series. Her classwork has been recognized with scholar-athlete awards. As for character, all you have to know is she has played the last three seasons with a stress fracture in her foot without complaint.

The ways the Moreno Valley, Calif., native has been able to impact her community, however, have surprised even Morgan.

Alabama’s football team has a championship tradition that dates back to the 1920s. Softball didn’t start up as a varsity sport until 14 years ago. But when Morgan participated in a D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in a neighboring county some 45 minutes away from the UA campus, she found she could be just as influential as the players from the 2009 national championship football team who also were a part of the service project.

“Never thought a Southern California girl would be in Bibb County, Ala., talking to kids, but they said I had more of an impact and had more kids than then when they brought (All-American nose guard Terrence) Cody down from the football team,” Morgan said. “It really shows me that it’s not all about me and the sport, it’s about the impact for the kids.

“If I can inspire a kid to stay off the streets and stay away from drugs and get into sports, then I feel like I’ve done what I’ve set out to do. I’m not set on earth by God to just play softball.”

Morgan also takes time after practices to help tutor youth softball players in the intricacies of the game. She then goes out and watches them play middle-school games to show her support.

“I help kids pitching and hitting,” she said. “Any of my kids, I say, ‘How is school? You getting good grades? You get a ‘D’ you don’t come back until you bring it up.’ It means the world to them to know an athlete of my level cares about them.”