May 30th, 2007 @ 9:38 pm | Author: Doug Peters
The softball road has taken Karalea Morris on a long and winding path. The path traveled has been from her native province of British Columbia to Kansas to North Dakota and finally ending in Holland. In each of those spots, Morris has made an impact and in turn softball has made an impact on her as well.
Mainly a relief pitcher at Barton County Community College in Kansas, Morris was recruited to Valley City State University by head coach Chad Slyter. 'It's funny the way things work out,' recalled Slyter. 'I was browsing recruiting web sites one night, found Karalea's information, made contact and the rest just kind of fell into place from there. The funny thing is, I don't remember what that website was and I don't think I have ever been on it again, it was a one time shot.'
Morris came to Valley City State in the fall of 2004 and began to make the transition from relief pitcher to starter. 'She was apprehensive about the switch, from a mental and physical standpoint, the roles are very different. We worked on some mental changes and I knew the physical part would come with our workouts and everything else went according to plan,' said Slyter of Morris's transition. It was a transition that Morris grabbed a hold of and ran with. In her two years in a Viking uniform, Morris won 31 games, setting a school record for wins in a season with 22 and struck out 490 batters in 361 innings pitched, also setting a record for strike outs in a season with 340.
After leading the Vikings to an NAIA National Tournament appearance and garnering Honorable All-American honors, Morris traveled overseas with USA Athletes International to compete in the Belgium Open. It was there that she was scouted and courted to return to play in Holland this summer. 'VCSU helped me to grow and improve as a pitcher,' Morris said of playing at Valley City State. 'In my two years there I learned a new pitch which is now one of my stronger strike pitches. Also having gone to nationals played a huge role in getting offered to play with the Gryphon's because they looked at all the stats, standings and awards and without that I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to play for such a great team and organization over here.'
Morris plays in 's-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) Holland for the Gryphon's. Den Bosch is located about an hour southeast of Amsterdam. The Gryphon's play in the first class division and play top level competition. 'Just like the DAC there are some great teams and some teams who struggle a bit. Almost all the teams are bringing in an American pitcher so their pitching staff is usually very good,' Morris said of the competition level.
Currently Morris is her same old self. Sporting a 7-0 record and a .66 era in 45 innings pitched, she has also struck out 82 batters while walking only seven. Of her seven wins, five have been shutouts.
What has this opportunity meant to Morris? 'It's an opportunity not many get and for that I am very thankful. I have seen ball from a different perspective, learned new techniques and new strategies,' said Morris. 'I have been able to use softball as a way to see the world, travel and enjoy something I love.'
Morris could have the opportunity to return and pitch again in future years but says that she is ready to complete her career and move on in her life. 'There is definitely the possibility to return and play another season. Once you are here you establish contacts and you can move to a higher or lower division if you wish. However, this will be my last season as I look forward to settling into a new teaching job and planning my upcoming wedding. I feel I am ready to close the softball chapter of my life.'
Morris graduated in December of 2006 from Valley City State University with a degree in Elementary Education. Until she hits the end of the road however, she is ready to continue to pitch her way to success. 'My experiences here have been unforgettable and will only get better as our season progresses.'