Morris prepared for new opportunity as LRSC head softball coach
Ben Morris considers himself a baseball guy. But when he was approached about leading an up-and-coming softball program, he knew the opportunity was too good to pass up.
After being an assistant baseball coach this spring for Lake Region State College, Morris accepted the head coaching position for the Royals softball program late last week.
The decision for Kory Boehmer, who has been the head coach since the program started in 2013-2014, to step down to focus more on academic assessment efforts while teaching science classes was mutual on all sides.
Boehmer, though, will continue to help the softball team grow as an assistant coach with an emphasis on pitching.
Morris, 27, played for the Royals baseball team in 2015. He then switched his role to assistant coach after graduating.
A year later, he has earned a head coaching gig.
“I didn’t really think about this until last year when I graduated and they approached me about coaching baseball,” Morris said. “I really like it here. And now the fact I get to head one of the programs, it’s a big honor.”
When Royals athletic director Danny Mertens was approached by LRSC Vice President Lloyd Halvorson about finding a replacement for Boehmer, Mertens mentioned Morris.
A big reason for that, Mertens said, was because Morris was named the interim head baseball coach in the fall of 2015 while LRSC searched for a new head coach.
Morris made the adjustment from player to coach and had the baseball team off on the right foot during fall practices.
And with one person leading the softball program since its inception, Mertens wanted to make the right decision.
“It’s a tough situation,” Mertens said. “Kory built this thing up. They’ve gotten more and more wins every year. His heart and soul is into softball and he’s done a wonderful job. We looked at if he takes one step back and be an assistant coach and groom Ben. You won’t find a better pitching coach than Kory. He’s been a masterful pitcher.”
The softball team went 15-31 this spring with a 10-10 record in the Mon-Dak Conference.
Morris said the experience of coaching baseball will help in his transition to softball.
“There’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment and that’s the way with any sport,” Morris said. “I hope to implement some things from baseball. When you get to upper divisions, they incorporate baseball plays, baseball approaches. We’re going to work a lot on situation stuff that I think I can bring in.”
That adjustment makes having Boehmer staying on board even more valuable.
“We’re going to feel off each other,” Morris said. “He knows the game through and through. There’s no one better at that. He’ll really focus on the pitching. Everything else we’ll work together. It will be like a co-dynamic, but in the end I’ll have to be the one to make the decisions.”
Morris said he and Boehmer will meet this week to discuss which sophomores are returning and will then look at recruits and what they need to fill.
Morris describes his coaching style as traditional and not authoritarian. He’s open to players contributing with new ideas and believes having a co-dynamic is key.
“He’ll bring good energy,” Mertens said. “He’s a younger guy so he’ll bring that energy on and off the field. Academically he’ll stay on the kids. And he has a (fitness) degree. We all use him here. Everyone uses him whether it’s volleyball or basketball for training athletes. With the energy and the training, he’s got it. I think being around baseball, he knows the game of baseball. Yes, there will be learning. But with Kory there as the assistant, those two can work well together.”