Bryce Morison, the Santa Barbara High Don who chose to play his collegiate baseball for hometown Westmont, was rewarded on Wednesday by getting voted to the NAIA All-America second team as a centerfielder.
“My experience here has been just tremendous,” said Morison, a 2015 graduate of Santa Barbara High School. “The support of the community and everybody – the team, the coaches, and everybody at the school – is incredible.
“I’ve made some great friends even outside the baseball team that I’ll have for life. It’s just special when you can get such a great group of people all in one community who are all so close and care about each other.”
Morison is only the fifth Warrior to ever earn the honor and the first since 1989, joining a list that includes Roger Sorensen (1962), Chuck Johnson (1973), Tim Ainley (1977), and Jeff Ludwig (1989). The team is chosen by the NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Association All-America Committee.
“In the sport of baseball, at the NAIA level, the spots to earn All-American are extremely limited and there is a great pool of highly qualified candidates,” Westmont coach Robert Ruiz said. “He earned every bit of success he achieved this year through his work ethic and commitment to pursuing excellence.”
Morison, who was a backup shortstop during his first two seasons at Westmont, became a starter after moving to centerfield as a junior. He batted .357 this year while setting single-season school records with eight triples and 138 total bases.
“This season has been a breakout year for me, and super-fun,” he said.
He hit 12 home runs while recording the second-highest slugging percentage in school history (.693). He also had 59 RBIs – which is tied for third in the Warrior record books – and scored 46 runs.
“This has certainly been one of the best offensive seasons I have seen in a player,” said Ruiz, who just finished his 10th season as Westmont’s head coach. “What I admire most is how much Bryce grew as a player.
“I have called him the self-made superstar. He is a four-year guy who progressively got better every year and never gave up on himself. This year was certainly his breakout year and it was a big one. He carried our team to a lot of victories this season and was a great leader on and off the field.”
Morison finishes his Westmont career with a .315 batting average. He is tied for second in program history in career triples (10) and tied for 11th in home runs (14). He also ranks 12th in slugging percentage (.545) and is tied for 15th in hit by pitches (19).
SBCC’s Maddie Mitchell, a sophomore from Houston, Tex., has been selected as the national winner of the Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership & Sportsmanship Award.
She played No. 5 and 6 singles and No. 3 doubles for the women’s tennis team that went 14-0 in Western State Conference play and 17-4 overall, advancing to the Southern Cal Regional semifinals. She was one of three Vaqueros who went undefeated in league play.
The Arthur Ashe Jr. Award has been presented by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association every year since 1982 to student-athletes who have shown great achievements on and off the court. It takes into account a player’s tennis accomplishments, scholastic achievements and extracurricular endeavors. Sportsmanship, leadership character, and community involvement are among the award’s main criteria.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment on so many levels,” SBCC Director of Athletics Rocco Constantino said. “In my opinion, the fact that Mr. Ashe established this award himself makes it even more meaningful.”
Vaquero coach Christina Klein nominated Mitchell because of “her respectfulness and strong work ethic.” She has made the President’s Honor Roll during both of her years at SBCC.
“Maddie has been a leader for our team this past year and is able to see the bigger picture, acting as the glue to the team to keep everyone together,” Klein said. “On the court, Maddie competes in a respectful manner with her teammates and her opponents alike.
“I think she won the national award because she displayed excellence on the court this year, leading us to a conference championship and at all times competed with class, sportsmanship and honor.”
TRACK AND FIELD
WESTMONT TAKES EIGHTH
Westmont College finished eighth in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Program of the Year standings, which combine the finishes from three NAIA National Championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field.
It is the highest finish ever for coach Russell Smelley’s Westmont men in the five years the USTFCCCA has tracked the combined results.
The Warriors finished eighth with 62 points, earning 27 points in cross country, 18.5 in indoor track and field, and 16.5 in outdoor track and field.
Michael Oldach was the highest Warrior cross country runner at the NAIA Nationals, placing eighth to earn All-America honors.
Seth Wilmoth won the men’s pole vault at Indoor Nationals. Pieter Top finished fourth in the heptathlon while Oldach placed eighth in the mile.
Top repeated as men’s decathlon champion at the Outdoor Nationals, while Jackson Nemitz placed sixth in the same event. Oldach took fifth in the 1500 meters while Peterson placed sixth in the 800.
CARROLL TO COMPETE
Solvang’s Ashley Carroll, a three-time national champion, is competing this week at USA Shooting’s National Trap Shooting Championships.
She is coming off a bronze-medal performance at the recent World Cup in Changwon, South Korea while securing an Olympic quota for her team.
Carroll was a bronze medalist at last year’s Nationals after having won gold in each of the previous three years. She was also named last week to Team USA for the upcoming Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.