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Cody Morris prepares for NCAA Regional tournament

Cody Morris, of Laurel, grew up spending a lot of time in College Park cheering on the Maryland Terrapins in various sports.

The Reservoir High School graduate was a top college baseball prospect and had several suitors, including the University of Maryland.

But he decided he wanted to go away for college, plus he had two friends who committed to play at South Carolina, of the powerhouse Southeastern Conference.

“It was a huge decision. I am a huge Terps fan,” he said. “My dad is a huge Terps fan. In the end, I wanted to get away. It was a tough decision; ultimately [Maryland] was too close to home.”

Three years later, junior right-hander Morris, 21, is one of the top starting pitchers for South Carolina and could hear his name called when the Major League Baseball draft is held June 4-6.

Morris was drafted by the Orioles in the 32nd round after his senior year at Reservoir.

He said it was easy to head to college. Morris was chosen just days after he had Tommy John surgery performed by noted Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Florida in late May, 2015.

“It was pretty much a courtesy pick by the Orioles,” said Morris, a USC redshirt in 2016 after surgery. “It was a no-brainer to go to school and play well and improve my stock for the [2018] draft.”

He figures to be chosen higher this time. He entered this season as the No. 23 prospect in the SEC for the MLB draft and he aided his cause by going 7-3 with a 3.80 ERA in 14 regular-season starts this year.

He was chosen as the SEC pitcher of the week on May 14 after he notched a career-high 10 strikeouts in seven innings in a 1-0 victory over Missouri.

“To be honest I am not really worrying about the draft right now,” Morris said earlier this month. “I don’t know if that is the answer you want to get. We are still trying to win baseball games.”

The coach for South Carolina is Mark Kingston, a former University North Carolina star who played in the minor leagues for the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs.

“Once Cody makes some big pitches and gets out of a jam, his confidence starts to grow,” Kingston told reporters.

At Reservoir, Morris was the 2014 Gatorade Maryland baseball player of the year and a two-time Howard County pitcher of the year. As a senior in 2015 he did not allow a run in 12 innings on the mound while striking out 26 batters.

He comes from an athletic family as his mother, Tracy, ran track at Atholton, his father, Dale, played baseball and basketball at High Point High in Beltsville and his sister, Shelby, played volleyball at Reservoir.

Morris, while at South Carolina, has been able to work out in the winter with former Gamecocks stars that are now in the minor and major leagues.

One of those players is Jackie Bradley, Jr., who is from Virginia and is now an outfielder for the Boston Red Sox.

“He is a super nice guy. He is really cool. He is just another guy. He doesn’t act like he is in the big leagues,” Morris said.

One of the pitchers that Morris has been able to talk to is Braden Webb, who was drafted out of South Carolina by the Milwaukee Brewers in the third round in 2016. Webb is now in the Single-A Carolina League and pitched against the Frederick Keys earlier this season.

“He knows what he is doing. He has been around the block,” Morris said.

It may be soon when Morris joins the professional ranks.

But first he wants to finish the season strong at South Carolina, which was ranked No. 25 in the country on May 20 and began play in the SEC tournament two days later where they went 1-2 while Morris didn’t pitch.

“I will let things fall into place,” he said of the June draft.

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