TORRINGTON – Baseball has a special place in the heart of Morgan Desmond and his entire family.
From his father Ben playing college baseball to Morgan playing college baseball to attending the first Colorado Rockies game to attending the College World Series every year since 1980, baseball has always been a large part of his family.
For the past several years, Desmond has been actively involved in coaching baseball locally as a coach, starting in Little League and eventually moving up as an assistant for the junior Legion team.
Since moving up in the coaching ranks, his family has remained close behind.
Whether it’s coaching with his father or having him on the mic announcing the players as they come to the plate or his wife Amy keeping the score book or daughter Grace helping keeping pitch count or being on the field with son Ayden on the field or Dave in the stands cheering the players on, summers at the baseball field are the norm for the Desmond family.
But when an opening came available to become the head coach of the younger Legion team, the decision to take over the program was pretty easy for him.
“I wanted to continue coaching. I was really enjoying it. Brice (Hill) wasn’t coming back this year. He had other obligations that he had with his new job,” Desmond said. “This is a special group of boys, and I’ve enjoyed coming up with them.”
He got hooked coaching Ayden’s Little League team. That team in 2018 finished second at the District Tournament in Gillette, qualifying for the State Little League Tournament in Powell.
Since that season, he moved up to helping coach the Torrington Tigers junior Legion team.
In 2019, he assisted his father with the coaching duties, and in 2020, he assisted Hill.
In 2021, it’ll be Desmond’s turn to lead the younger Tiger squad.
“It’s been too fun of a ride to jump off at this point,” Desmond said. “I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.”
In the two years as an assistant, the Tigers have qualified for the ‘C’ Legion State Tournament both years.
In 2019, the team went 0-2, but the following year, the Tigers won their only game at state in thrilling walk-off fashion over Jackson.
Heading into his first season as the head coach, Desmond’s coaching philosophy is simple.
“You are going to get out of your season what you are willing to put in at practice,” he said. “I emphasize hard work.”
And that starts on defense.
“I try to coach a hard-nosed style of defense,” Desmond said. “I want to keep the ball in the infield if at all possible. The last couple of years the No. 1 rule on defense was to stop the ball.”
At the plate, he wants his players to be aggressive and be ready every pitch.
“I don’t want them to stand up there and wait to get a strike,” Desmond said. “In the middle of the game, when we are trying to manufacture runs, I want the boys to be ready every pitch. If they get a pitch down the middle, whether it’s a fresh county or a 2-0 count, I don’t put the take sign on. That might be your pitch for that at-bat.”
The aggressive nature has become a staple for the team over the past couple of years, and Desmond hopes to continue that in 2021.
Desmond also hopes to get a jump start on the season with winter workouts starting in January.
“We have a couple sights getting setup where we can have cages come towards the end of January, early February where we can get kids together to get some tee time in the cage and get some soft toss in,” he said. “I don’t know how much room we’ll have, but we also want to get some throwing in to start the development of the arms earlier on in the spring.”
Desmond encouraged interested players to keep an eye on the Torrington Tiger Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/torringtontigersbaseball on dates when those workouts will be happening.
Registration for the 2021 season begins in January, and Desmond stated the team has 24-26 games currently scheduled with hopes of pushing it to 30 before the season begins.
“We’ve had some guys aged out that were key pieces and will be hard to replace, but we do have some young guys that were 13-year-olds last year that will help us quite a bit. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to this year. I think we’ll be alright,” Desmond said. “I’m hoping I can follow in the shoes that my dad set two years ago, and Brice set last year. As long as we can get these kids some baseball played. We have yet to see what COVID has in store for us or what tricks 2021 has in store for us. I’m optimistic what the future holds for Tiger baseball.”