Morris ends tenure as baseball coach at AC

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Citing the decision as &uot;something I have to do for myself,&uot; Adams Christian baseball coach Gill Morris resigned after four season with the Rebels.

Morris, who led the Rebels to two of the school’s three appearances in a state championship, notified the returning players Wednesday of his decision after he submitted a letter to headmaster John Gray back on April 24.

Morris, a longtime coach and administrator at Natchez High before arriving at ACCS, leaves after the Rebels made a run at the state championship last week. He will remain as a teacher at the school.

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&uot;This year was kind of wear and tear,&uot; said Morris, who was 69-41 in four years at AC. &uot;It’s been very, very rewarding, but at the same time there’s been a lot of frustration. I’m kind of burnt out right now, to be completely honest with you. It was a hard decision, and I’ve pondered it a long time &045; even when we were having success. But this is something I have to do for myself right now.&uot;

The announcement was an unexpected one for the Rebels and the school, particularly since the team did so well in the playoffs and are moving down to Class AA next spring. Assistant coach Ron Rushing, a former head coach at Brookhaven Academy, will take over as head coach and will do so beginning with Tuesday’s summer league game at home.

Morris also leaves as his son, Jamie, prepares for his senior season at shortstop.

&uot;Just shocked,&uot; returning right fielder David Trisler said. &uot;He told us he was resigning. I wasn’t there, but I talked to everybody on the team, and they said that was all he said. He just said he was resigning. It was just a shock to everybody. Nobody knew anything about it or that he might be resigning.&uot;

Morris’ decision to step down came after the Rebels got involved in a controversy over Game 1 in the Class AAA state championship against Jackson Prep where weather halted the series for over almost two weeks. Game 1 was halted by rain with the game tied at 3-3, the second time the Patriots had made a trip to Natchez after initially getting as far as Brookhaven before turning back.

Officials at Prep did not want to travel to Natchez to finish Game 1, despite what Morris said were MPSA rules that call for the lower seed to host the opening game of a playoff series.

MPSA officials ruled the game to be continued at Jackson Prep. The Rebels lost Game 1 and Game 2 as the Patriots won the state title.

&uot;I’m looking forward to just teaching my class and going home at the end of the day,&uot; Morris said. &uot;I’m sure I’ll miss it. I do have my son down there. It’s going to be hard to sit there and just watch, but I don’t know &045; it’s time for me to get out. I’ll have my withdrawal symptoms. That’s what I told my kids. I’m going to miss the competition and miss working with the kids.&uot;

Morris said he retired from the Natchez-Adams School District in the fall of 2000 after officials at AC made a second offer to lure him across town to serve as baseball coach. Morris took over the position from Chad Lipscombe and led the Rebels to the state championship his first season.

His Rebels lost to Indianala Academy in two games in the finals.

&uot;He wants to enjoy his son’s senior year,&uot; AC headmaster John Gray said. &uot;He’s done a good job the years I’ve been here. I don’t have anything but praise for him. It’s probably been about three weeks since he’s handed me that letter, and I knew he wanted to wait until the season was over. I was real pleased with what he did and how he handled the program.&uot;

The vacancy allows Rushing to move up as head coach after he completed his first year as assistant coach. Rushing, a former AC standout and 1991 graduate, served as head coach for four years at Brookhaven Academy before returning to AC.

&uot;I’m excited about the job,&uot; Rushing said. &uot;My first job was at Brookhaven, and they had won 27 games in nine years. We had to come in and redo everything. But coming in after Gill being there four years, everything is there for me.&uot;

Rushing takes over after the team lost four seniors &045; Matt Parson, Douglas Davis, Glenn Williams and Joseph Dunlap &045; with each playing key roles on the team. The loss of Davis and Williams puts Rushing in search of two starting pitchers, while Dunlap was the team’s regular catcher.

Timmy Foster will likely step into the team’s role as No. 1 starter as a junior next spring.

&uot;(Rushing) is going to have a good chance to do well,&uot; said Trisler, who led the team with 10 home runs and a .445 batting average. &uot;He played for Delta State, and he’s a good coach. We lost a lot in the pitching department, but we’ve still got a lot of good hitters coming back.&uot;

Morris’ resignation is the third among coaches in the last 12 months at the school. Gray said the school is currently attempting to fill positions of head boys’ basketball and head girls’ basketball coaches following the departures of boys’ coach Ricky Gray and girls’ coach Bruce Pickle.

Morris, meanwhile, will continue to teach history and will serve as instructor for a newly created course in Natchez antebellum history. So far 32 students have signed up for the elective course.

&uot;I’m looking forward to it,&uot; Morris said. &uot;It’s a credit to AC to teach a course like this. There’s so much history in Natchez. I tell Mr. Gray &045; I’m a teacher first. A lot of coaches get bad raps because people think, ‘He’s a coach, and he must not be much of a teacher.’ I really resent that when people feel that way. I take pride in my class.&uot;