Originally created 07/25/99

Pitching earns win for Tribe



Matt Morrison is no gazelle.

Rumor has it his mom is the fastest member of the family.

"She is," joked Matt's dad, Terry Morrison. "And she ain't that fast."

Though Matt's lack of foot speed has been a running joke at the Morrison household for years, the 22-year-old Augustan knows he would not be a successful pitcher today if he could run like the wind.

"I was too slow to play any other position," Morrison said. "I knew if I wanted to keep playing, I had to become a pitcher."

The Augusta Tribe right-hander made a wise choice, and his success on the mound continued Saturday at Augusta State University in the Georgia Games men's baseball tournament.

Morrison tossed a complete-game two-hitter with five strikeouts to lead the Tribe to a 9-3 win against the Augusta Padres.

"Matt's come a long way as a pitcher," said Terry, who coaches the Tribe team, a collection of local college players.

"He's done pretty well for someone who never pitched before college."

After graduating from Westside High School, the former third baseman wanted to continue playing when he enrolled at Augusta State.

After red-shirting his first year, Jaguars coach Skip Fite encouraged Matt to work toward becoming a pitcher.

He saw limited action as a reliever his first two seasons and finally earned a spot in the starting rotation this past season.

At the year-end banquet in May, Matt was named the Jaguars' most improved player.

"He had all the tools to be a good pitcher," said Gene Tom, a former Augusta College pitcher and close family friend who helped Matt develop as a pitcher. He also is an assistant coach with the Tribe. "He's worked very hard."

For Matt, playing for the Tribe is truly a family affair.

His sister Jeannie, who recently earned a music degree at Augusta State, was the school's pep band director and is an accomplished musician, is the Tribe's manager and scorekeeper. His mom, WJBF-TV morning anchorwoman Mary Morrison, is the Tribe's most fervent and vocal fan. She also travels with the team on road trips to south Georgia and Florida. Matt joins his sister's musical interest by moonlighting as the lead singer of a local hip-hop band, The Riff Raff Kings.

"It's great having my mom and sister involved with the team along with my dad," Matt said. "We're a close family."

Rob Mueller can be reached at (706) 823-3425 or robm99@hotmail.com.