Morgan Reed embraces role as squad’s offensive leader
Benjamin Padanilam | Friday, April 21, 2017
Over the last three seasons, the heart of the Irish lineup has been fueled by some of the program’s most powerful hitters, such as the likes of double-digit home run threats Katey Haus, Emilee Koerner and Micaela Arizmendi.
So it might have been a surprise to some when a new face was slotted into the middle-of-the-order, run-producing role in the lineup at the start of the season: junior shortstop Morgan Reed.
Having hit for an average of at least .325 in each of her first two seasons, Reed had more than proven herself to be capable at the dish. But with only seven home runs and 62 RBIs total in her first two seasons, she didn’t exactly profile as a run-producer, either.
But since being handed the reins of the offense, Reed has taken off: The junior leads the Irish in batting average (.400), home runs (five) and RBIs (39) after 42 games, and she’s been exactly the leader Notre Dame was looking for to fill out the middle of the order at the beginning of the season, upping her slugging percentage of .531 from last season to .638 this year.
“I think it is another year of experience. It’s huge,” Reed said of the success she’s found in her new role. “Just having confidence up at the plate is everything. It’s 95 percent mental and 5 percent fundamental, so you really have to go up there with a good mindset.”
But carving out a leadership role for the Irish (27-15, 11-7 ACC) is far from a new thing for the Maylene, Alabama native. While her role in the lineup is different than from years past, Reed said she has felt as though she has had to lead since she stepped foot on the diamond at Melissa Cook Stadium, especially since she was tasked with playing shortstop her first season in a Notre Dame uniform.
“Even as a freshman, I had to kind of step up as a leader, being shortstop and kind of the runner of the infield,” Reed said.
And that test of early leadership was important to her growth as a player, as it helped her develop confidence in her own abilities, which Reed said has been crucial to her ability to take on a greater role as a leader this season.
“I think that [being a leader] also goes with confidence and just trusting your abilities,” Reed said. “[The team has] worked so hard for our entire careers to get to this point, and I think trusting our fundamentals and trusting what we have practiced over and over again is what gets us to where we are now.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Reed, however. When the Irish started 4-8 in their first 12 games of the season, she said it was a challenge for the team to find its groove. But she said she believes maintaining her confidence was crucial for her personally, and helping her teammates to embrace, what she called the “year of the fighter,” became her focus. Reed said the team really began to embrace that fighting mentality, and the recent results support it; the Irish have won 15 of their last 17 games, and they hope to maintain that success as they enter the home stretch of their season.
“I think this year’s different, though, because we’re just finding our groove,” Reed said. “The beginning of the year was a struggle, but this is the year of the fighter — I think all of us have really embraced that.
“Just trying to help other people embrace that role as well is something that I’ve tried to focus on.”