Hannah Morris got the call and delivered.
The former Piedmont Lady Wildcat softball star hit a three-run home run over the left field fence to put three more runs on the board for Oklahoma Baptist.
Not bad for her first college at-bat.
It was OBU’s season opener and Morris hadn’t seen the field until the sixth inning plate appearance, but she wasted no time once she got in the box. The 5-foot-8 freshman drilled the first pitch she saw in her pinch hit at-bat out of the yard to give the Lady Bison a 9-0 walk-off, run-rule win over Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
“It was a great feeling,” Morris said. “Everyone met me at home plate and they were jumping up and down and banging on my helmet. It was awesome.”
The Sooner Athletic Conference thought so, too. The former Piedmont Lady Wildcat was named SAC softball player of the week the following Monday, after she finished the first week of her college career with a .667 batting average, a 2.667 slugging percentage, three runs scored and five RBI. She also walked once, stole a base and went on to hit a home run in her first career start for OBU.
The on-field success was nothing new to Morris. She was a member of three state tournament teams and amassed over 120 wins during her career as a Piedmont Lady Wildcat. In her senior year, Morris was selected to first team All-State as a utility player and to first team All-Region.
OBU head coach Pam Fink saw a lot of offensive potential in Morris when she recruited her out of Piedmont High.
“She was a pretty good little hitter, she was patient and really understood the game,” the coach said.
Despite the early success, it took Morris until the last month of the year to cement herself as a starter. She bounced around between infield positions, playing mostly as a reserve until finding an everyday home in the outfield for an OBU team that finished with a 33-23 record and reached the semifinals of the SAC Tournament.
“That was a great accomplishment for me,” she said of earning a starting role in right field. “It made me feel proud of how hard I worked.”
Her journey to a starting spot in the Lady Bison lineup wasn’t unlike her career at Piedmont High School. Morris was an outfielder for her first three seasons as a Lady Wildcat, but moved to third base as a senior. Infield or outfield, it doesn’t matter to Morris.
“I’m a true utility player,” she said. “It makes you more valuable to be able to play more than one position and I understand that.”
Fink says nothing’s guaranteed, but that Morris has a good grasp on the starting spot she earned as a freshman.
“Right now an outfield position is hers to lose,” she said, while admitting Morris could switch positions again as a sophomore.
When the applied communications major first arrived in Shawnee, she wasn’t worried about starting. She wasn’t sure what to expect. What she got was an early wakeup call—literally—and lots of hard work.
“For the first five weeks we had 5 a.m. workouts,” she recalled. “It was two hours long and it was a competition. If you won your competition you only had to run a mile after it was over, but if you lost you had to run three.”
The ‘horrible’ workouts as Morris described them, prepared her for the season, she says and helped her get used to the demands of college life.
With the unknown of her rookie campaign now behind her, Morris has big goals for next season.
“I’m aiming for some sort of award. All-Conference at my position or anything of that nature,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to stepping into leadership shoes, too. As a freshman that’s not really your territory, but as a sophomore I think I’ll take on more of a leadership role since I know what to expect.”
Overall, Morris couldn’t be happier with how things have gone at OBU.
“I love it, it’s tough but it’s a wonderful education,” she said of her college experience.
She credits a lot of what she’s accomplished at OBU to her experience in the Lady Wildcat softball program. And she never misses a chance to put in a good word for her old high school team and hometown.
“I love to represent my town for sure,” she said.