MILFORD – Dedication, hard work, and a wicked curve ball have helped Caroline High School’s Abby Morrow achieve the holy grail of high school athletics: a scholarship from a division 1 institution to play at the collegiate level.
Morrow, with her parents at her side, signed papers at the high school today committing to attend Radford University next year to play softball for the Highlanders.
“Her work ethic is second to none,” said Lady Cavaliers coach Greg Trainum. “That’s why she is where she is now.”
That, her near-perfect control, a good curve ball, and another pitch known in softball as a drop ball because it sinks before crossing the plate. “They set up her fast ball,” said Trainum.
It was her ability to throw strikes that helped Morrow earn an all-Battlefield District first team selection last spring as a junior. She gave up only eight walks the entire season en route to compiling a 16-5 record. Morrow posted a 1.00 earned run average and collected 167 strikeouts. She also was effective on offense, batting .429 and with a slugging percentage of .625.
The Lady Cavaliers were third in the Battlefield District last season, then finished second in the district tournament; Morrow threw a no-hitter – her second of the season – to help Caroline defeat Culpeper 1-0 in the tournament semifinal game. Caroline qualified for regional play for the first time in school history but was knocked out in the quarterfinals.
Besides having a strong curve ball and drop ball, Morrow also has an effective fastball and changeup, according to Trainum. “She masters everyone of her pitches. We keep those other teams so off guard, they don’t’ know what’s coming.”
In addition to playing for her high school team, Morrow has played on travel softball teams in recent years, most recently the Richmond Storm U-18 team. She also has worked with a pitching coach, Ritchie Jacobs of Spotsylvania.
Along with her parents, Morrow was joined at a signing ceremony in the school library by her coaches, school officials, and some of her teammates.
Morrow, 17, began playing little league softball with Caroline Little League when she was in grade six. She became interested because some of her friends played softball.
She took an immediate interest in pitching. “I wanted to pitch really bad,” she said.
“I really envied the pitcher. I wanted to be in the center,” she added. To improve as a pitcher, she began playing catch with her mother and father in the back yard.
Morrow has a 3.7 grade point average and is making straight As so far this semester, according to her parents. She participates in the high school’s dual enrollment program with Germanna Community College. In addition to playing on the softball team, she is editor of the yearbook. Morrow also played field hockey for three years and participated in track one year.
Radford’s coach, Maggie Johnson, saw Morrow play in a showcase tournament in Salem this fall.
Morrow also considered Mary Washington University and Christopher Newport University, which are division 3 institutions in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The athletic scholarship to Radford will pay for one-third of college expenses. Morrow is interested in majoring in physical therapy or sports medicine.
The Highlanders, who belong to the Big South Conference, have won their regular season conference titles the past four seasons and also won the Big South Tournament championship in 2009 and 2010. They advanced to the regional final in 2010 before falling to eventual national semifinalist Georgia. Radford was 16-5 in the Big South in 2012 and 34-21 overall.
What sets Morrow apart from other players is her intensity and commitment, noted Trainum. “The young lady is driven. She wants to be the best. And all that work is paying off now for her.”
Morrow lives with her parents, David and Vicki, at their Ruther Glen home along with another daughter, Allison, a freshman at Caroline High School.
“We’re very proud of her,” said her mother, a Radford alumnus. “She has worked hard for this.” She described her daughter as “every parent’s dream.”