Morgan Hyde was a centerpiece on Thomson High School’s region championship baseball teams in 2014 and 2016 and thanks to the NCAA’s “Covid mulligan” finds himself playing college ball for a fifth season.
Hyde played his freshman season at Gordon College in Massachusetts before joining high school teammates Brian Smith and Cade Brown at USC-Salkahatchie, a junior college, in Allendale, SC. From there he moved to Coastal Carolina University and played his junior and senior seasons and graduated with a degree in Recreation and Sports Management. This year Hyde spends his bonus season at USC-Aiken where he pursues a degree in computer science.
“My journey through college baseball has been like a roller coaster. It has had its ups and downs, but it has been a blast all the way through,” he shared via email.
College players playing at multiple schools is not unique and neither is filling the dual role of pitcher and top-of-the-order outfielder, which Morgan has done at every stop.
“I enjoy hitting the most because it brings such joy if you’re successful, as does pitching, but hitting you’re able to experience on a daily basis,” he said.
Hyde offered that managing the dual role isn’t difficult, but the approach is different.
“You have to go from figuring out how to execute pitches to figuring out how to get on base in the next inning,” he said.
Hyde credits his family for starting him in baseball as a youngster and supporting him throughout the years.
“They would always throw with me in the yard or let me hit a bucket of balls,” he said.
The Thomson Wildcats travel team played a big role in his development.
“Coaches Robert Brown, Brad Smith and Jon Gridley really helped me when I was growing up,” he said.
He also acknowledges his middle and high school coaches.
“I have to thank Brett Chalker for helping me become a better outfielder. Aaron Hall was one of the better coaches that I’ve ever had, and Craig Chapman was a great coach as well. They taught me a lot about hitting and gave me the opportunity to prove myself as a freshman. I continuously got better thanks to them,” he said.
Brad Smith and Robert Brown ended up coaching him again his senior year and he credits their sons Brian and Cade with being willing to come to the field and hit or throw.
“My time at Thomson High was great. The teams that we had during my time were some of the best that I’ve been a part of. We had the potential to do more than we did, and I believe everyone knew that,” Morgan lamented. “My freshman year against Dodge County I hit my first high school home run. Another memory is winning region and going into the state playoffs.”
Hyde describes his time at Coastal Carolina, who won the 2016 College World Series when he was a high school senior, as “unreal.”
“Playing at that level was breathtaking. My first homerun at Coastal came against Texas State in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.”
He called his first at bat at Coastal as his most key experience in baseball. Hyde, who earned Sun Belt Conference academic honors at Coastal Carolina, plans to finish his degree in computer science and perhaps get into coaching.
“I have gained knowledge about different positions, hitting and even pitching that I wish I would’ve known earlier,” he said. “I am thankful for the journey that I’ve had because it has shown me the differences between the levels of baseball and taught me so much about life and the powerful bonds of friendship.”
Gene Walker is a retired educator who lives in Thomson. His column, “Sports Talk,” appears in the weekly editions of The McDuffie Progress. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.