GC athlete gets Bobcat honors

 Grove City native Jennifer Morris will be inducted into the Ohio University Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 27. She started her softball career at Grove City High School, but transferred to Bishop Ready. Morris even played softball professionally and almost made it to the Olympics.

 Here Morris goes to bat for the Ohio University softball team.

A Grove City native hits another home run even though her career is technically over.

Last month, Ohio University announced their list of inductees into their Athletic Hall of Fame and former Bishop Ready softball star Jennifer Morris was on it.

"This is the thrill of a lifetime," she said. "All the years of playing and I never thought I would make it into anyone’s Hall of Fame."

Morris became active in sports to prove that she could keep up with the older kids in the neighborhood, mainly her brother.

"She was the only girl in the neighborhood who was up to the challenge of playing against the boys," said her father Joe Morris. "She really held her own.

She has this natural ability that you just cannot teach."

Joe said he remembers as she was growing up and fine-tuning her skills, she would make him drive her up to Westerville Grand Slam three times a week so just she could practice with the batting machines.

"I would go up there and feed the machines while she would just swing away," he said.

"She was such a perfectionist and had this burning desire to be as good as she could be."

Morris started out playing for Grove City High School, but transferred to Bishop Ready for her junior and senior year where she was a catcher whose batting average was over .400 each year. She also helped lead the Silver Knights to a victory in the state championship in 1995.

Her athletic skills, as well as her excellent academic standing (she is also in the Academic Hall of Fame for Bishop Ready and Ohio University), drew the attention of sports programs throughout the nation.

"I always thought playing softball for Notre Dame was my dream and I was recruited by them as well as Ohio State, but I felt Notre Dame was a bit too far away, and Ohio State was a bit too close," Morris explained. "I wanted my parents to be able to see the games to give back to them for all the years they helped me achieve my dreams, so Ohio University was a good choice for me."

Because the team already had a capable catcher, they asked Morris to switch positions to first base. That was not a problem for her as she played different positions while playing for Catholic leagues during the summer break.

With that switch came accolades and records.

"She is the all-time leading hitter in the MAC (Mid-American Conference), first in batting average, second in base hits, first in doubles and a four time first team all-league player for the MAC Conference," said Joe. "Even though she holds all these records, she’ll never brag about it. That’s just not in her character."

Morris was even drafted into the now disbanded Women’s Professional Softball League, but decided she would rather play for the Puerto Rican National softball team and try her hand to qualify for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

"Unfortunately they got beat by Cuba and didn’t qualify, but she played with the Puerto Rican team for two years and was their leading hitter, as well as their Most Valuable Player," Joe said.

After that chapter in her life, she moved to Florida and worked with a minor league baseball team, but recently moved to Denver, Colo. with her husband.

"I’m fairly new to the area, so I haven’t been able to get into what it offers sports-wise, but after the baby comes, I’ll probably get back into it, Morris said.

She is due to give birth on Sept. 1, so she does not know if she will make it to the induction ceremony on Sept. 27, but she said she would try to be there anyway.

"It’s just amazing because they select so few athletes into the Hall of Fame, and to be one of those is just wonderful.

"I am so proud to be receiving this honor."

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