Morris had what it takes to be winner

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 7, 1999

While talking with Natchez High athletic director Gill Morris recently it hit me what a lot of high school football players are missing and what still burns deep inside Morris’ eyes – a killer instinct.

I’m not talking knock somebody’s head off. I’m talking the confidence to outplay someone from the start, the dedication to give 100 percent each play, the desire to win every single play, the fortitude to know you can get that one yard or hold the other team and the will to put someone away when you have them on the ropes.

Morris was an outstanding pitcher at Natchez-Adams High in the late 1960s and went on to pitch for Belhaven.

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He went 3-1 as a junior with a 1.61 earned run average, striking out 20 while allowing 10 hits.

He took the role of pitching ace his senior year, striking out 99 batters over 78 innings, allowing 21 hits and finishing with an 0.53 earned run average. He was 8-2 on the season, with one of those losses at South State, when the Rebels were beaten by Jackson Central 2-1 in nine innings.

Natchez finished 20-7 Morris’ senior year.

&uot;A.C. was so aggressive and so positive,&uot; Morris said. &uot;You were going to make the plays, you were going to hit the ball and you were going to throw strikes. He instilled that in us. When we got on the field, we put it on automatic.&uot;

Needless to say, Williams had Morris on the mound whenever possible.

&uot;I wanted the ball,&uot; Morris said. &uot;I gave it everything I had every time out.&uot;

Morris said he loved to challenge hitters.

&uot;When&160;I saw them dig in, it made me want to blow it by them even more,&uot; he said. &uot;I wasn’t afraid to pitch inside. Coach Williams taught us that the plate belonged to the pitcher.&uot;

It was two games against McComb that are most memorable for Morris.

&uot;Natchez, McComb and Brookhaven absolutely hated each other back then,&uot; Morris said. &uot;My junior year, Ted Milton, who is now a good friend, hit a grand slam off of me in the bottom of the seventh inning to win district. The next year, I battled Butch Holmes, who followed Milton to Mississippi State. I pitched a no-hitter in that game.&uot;

Morris also had something else very important -&160;the support of his parents, Harvey and Myrtle.

&uot;I didn’t pitch straight over the top,&uot; Morris said. &uot;It was kind of a sidearm. My dad called it an in-chute pitch. My parents (Harvey and Myrtle)&160;really supported me. They came to watch all of my games.&uot;

Morris returned to South Natchez as a teacher. He served as an assistant principal before taking on his new role as athletic director.

&uot;There’s a lot more paperwork than&160;I thought, but it’s enjoyable,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;Once I get on top of the paperwork I’ll be able to interact more with the coaches.&uot;

Morris also enjoys working with his son, Jamie, who is 12 and has played summer ball most of his life.

&uot;Jamie has a good glove and bat,&uot; Morris said. &uot;He’s good enough to play every day instead of just being on the mound. He’s already a better hitter than I ever was. I don’t push him any more than my dad pushed me.&uot;

It was the kind of push that benefitted Natchez-Adams High, that’s for sure.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat.

He can be reached at or by calling 446-5172 ext. 232.