Freshman often have a difficult time adjusting to varsity baseball.
Most never see the field until their junior or senior season. Morgan Lunceford was thrown into the fire early in his career.
Lunceford will be a sophomore on the Shawnee Wolves baseball team this season. In his freshman campaign, the right-handed prospect compiled a record of 4-2, with 55 strikeouts and a 1.98 earned run average. Lunceford also recorded one save and walked 19.
Last year’s club was young and inexperienced. The team finished with a record of 17-17 as the young Wolves learned on the fly.
“There was a lot of pressure,” Lunceford said. “We had a lot of goals in mind but we really didn’t know what to expect making the jump to 6A. We lost a lot of seniors so we lost a lot of leadership and we were really young. We relied on our two seniors to help us with to expect with the older, bigger teams.”
Looking forward to next season, Lunceford is ready to help his team make the jump back into the state tournament conversation.
“I think this year will be a good test for us,” he said. “We are a lot older now and have more experience to go with the work we have been putting in this off-season.”
There have been some very good teams come through Shawnee High School. The pressure to win and win often comes with the territory. Lunceford said his team looks to establish their own legacy and not attempt to replicate previous teams.
“I feel like we are starting fresh with everything,” he said. “After last year happened we have that experience now and are looking to build our own legacy.”
Lunceford was a late bloomer in terms of playing baseball. He didn’t hit the diamond until age 11.
“Most kids started early but I played basketball early on,” Lunceford said. “Baseball is such a mentally challenging sport that we thought it would be best to wait until I was a little older to start playing.”
Looking back on his first trip to the mound as a member of the Shawnee Wolves, Lunceford said he remembered feeling a bit nervous, but all the hard work leading up to that point left him ready to compete against 6A schools.
“When coach told me to go warm up, I was in a bit of shock,” Lunceford said. “My brain was all over the place. These kids are way bigger than what I was used to. I really had a lot of nervous energy but thankfully I didn’t overthink it. I had a good off-season so I was feeling pretty confident.”
After a relatively successful season, Lunceford has been putting in plenty of work this off-season to carry that momentum into his sophomore season.
“There was a bit of a learning curve but I took away a lot of positives will build off them this off-season,” he said.
As of now, the plan is for Lunceford to play a few games behind the dish next season.
“I like catching. It’s hard on your body sometimes but I enjoy it,” he said. “I like to call my own pitches and it gives me another perspective which helps me fully understand the game and what pitch to call in specific situations.”
Lunceford attended a tryout for the Chicago White Sox underclass team. Tryouts were June 25 at North Central College in Illinois. Lunceford will find out if he made the team later this summer.
“It was only a freshman and sophomore tryout but there was a lot of good competition,” he said. “Just to be considered is a great honor.”
Lunceford and his 17U team, Team Elite, are competing in a tournament in Florida this weekend.