Konawaena senior finds right connection
By JOE FERRARO
The fit couldn’t have been any better.
Wanting to give a handful of Konawaena baseball players the opportunity to play at the next level, Wildcats assistant coach John Kaiwi dropped a few names with various college baseball coaches he’d met when his son, 2010 Makua Lani graduate Josh Kaiwi, weighed his college options.
One of those coaches, Oregon Tech’s Matt Miles, had targeted the outfield as an area of need for his baseball team. In a conversation with Kaiwi, he basically rattled off a job description for being an outfielder at Oregon Tech, an NAIA school in Klamath Falls, Ore.
Kaiwi thought Wildcats outfielder Domonic Morris was just the right person for the job.
“The coach was saying he needed an outfielder, and they needed someone with speed, particularly a lefty,’’ Morris said. “(Kaiwi) said, ‘I got the guy for you,’ and that’s how all it all started.”
For Morris, that started the beginning of a collegiate baseball career. It officially began Tuesday, when he signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Oregon Tech.
The Owls offered the senior a scholarship that will cover approximately 20 percent of his tuition costs. Morris said Miles told him that amount may increase as his college career progresses.
Miles first contacted Morris just before the start of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II state tournament, which took place May 9-11 at Oahu’s Hans L’Orange Field. Within a week, Morris said, Miles presented a financial aid package.
“They just like (my) speed and that I’ve got a good glove,’’ Morris said.
Throughout his high school career, Morris regularly ran down balls driven into the gaps or over his head in center field.
From a team that went 11-17 in the Cascade Collegiate Conference and 20-36 overall, Oregon Tech will graduate center fielder Jared Nelson, who started 53 of the team’s 56 games last season.
The Owls will return senior Spencer Reed and Aaron Bocchi, who manned right and left field, respectively, at the tail end of last season. In the first half of the season, Miles slotted Bocchi into the lineup as a designated hitter.
“(Miles) said he had some spots open for the outfield, and I guess I’m going to fill a spot,’’ said Morris, a left-handed leadoff hitter who batted .315 with two homers, five triples, 24 RBIs and a team-high 41 runs scored for Konawaena last season. “I have to work for my position, and they’ll go from there.”
Hawaii Pacific University also had its eye on the Konawaena senior, but Morris said Oregon Tech expressed more interest than the Division II school.
In addition to helping the Wildcats win their first Big Island Interscholastic Federation baseball title since 1972 in 2011, Morris also played a key role on a football team that claimed back-to-back league crowns in 2011 and 2012.
Over the past two seasons, the 5-foot-8, 165-pound Morris caught 68 passes for 1,481 yards and 22 touchdowns. Over the past year, he had received letters of interest from Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Tulsa.
All the while, Morris said, he was leaning toward playing baseball in college.
Away from the baseball diamond at Oregon Tech, Morris will choose a major that will help him achieve his goal of becoming a paramedic. On the field, he feels he has something to prove.
“I’m just ready to go and do what I do – ready to play and show what I’m made of,’’ Morris said. “I’m not that big, but I know I can play — that I can play at any level and succeed at any level. I have to show the coaches I can do that.”
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