OMAHA, Neb. — LSU has some connections to Preston Morrison, TCU’s starting pitcher for Sunday.
Conner Hale played with him briefly in the Cape Cod League last summer before Morrison left for Team USA. There he joined forces with Alex Bregman.
Neither Hale nor Bregman have ever faced him, but they have played behind him, so they know a thing or two about his game.
“He’s a guy that’s going to pound the zone,” Bregman said. “He throws three pitches for strikes. He’s had a lot of success at TCU. If we just stay aggressive at the plate and on the bases, use the whole field, we’ll be successful.”
Morrison relies mostly on his sinking fastball and “Frisbee” slider that breaks toward his arm side. He’s not overpowering, only throwing his fastball in the mid-upper 80s. But he creates so much movement that he gets plenty of outs.
Morrison was the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2014. He’s followed that with an 11-3 record in 2015 and 2.55 ERA. He leads the TCU team in innings pitched (113) and has 86 strikeouts with opponents hitting .223 against him.
“They say he hasn’t had as good a season this year,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “But statistically he looks pretty good to me.”
Part of what makes Morrison so effective is his release point. He has an arm slot between a sidearm and three quarters delivery. That’s where the movement comes from and he can be very difficult on right-handed hitters.
“We have to back off the plate a little bit,” Hale said. “He has a sinker that he’s going to try to run in on the righties. We just have to try to get to him.”
It’ll be a little easier on left-handed hitters. His pitches will trail away from the lefties and induce a lot of groundballs. But his unorthodox arm slot isn’t as deceptive to them.
“It’s important for lefties to try and hit line drives toward the shortstop,” said left-handed Andrew Stevenson. “That’ll probably be our best shot to have success against him.”
Don’t expect Morrison to get too rattled on the big stage. The senior pitched in the CWS a year ago, throwing 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball on five hits with 10 strikeouts.
LSU loves to be aggressive and get in the minds of opposing pitchers. That might not work on Morrison, but LSU will stick with its own style.
“We have a veteran lineup too,” Bregman said. “We’re very confident after this season. We’re going to attack him and be aggressive, stick with what we’ve done to get here.”
LSU prepped for TCU's Preston Morrison
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