Every South Carolina baseball fans knows that the Gamecocks won back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011, and most of them know that one of the team’s biggest leaders was not the most talented player on the team.
Future Major League Baseball stars like Jackie Bradley, Jr., Whit Merrifield, and Christian Walker had the most eyes on them during those magical runs, but the national titles might not have been possible without a less-heralded player leading the charge.
Infielder Adrian Morales was lightly recruited out of junior college but became one of the most important players on Ray Tanner’s best teams.
Morales was a pretty good player, but he was the heart and soul of the garnet and black. His leadership and willingness to hold other players accountable led to a cohesiveness that is now legendary in Gamecock Nation.
It certainly didn’t hurt Morales’ reputation that he was on campus for two seasons, and South Carolina baseball ended both of those years as the national champs. Morales also saved his best moments for the biggest moments, including 4 big home runs in the 2010 postseason.
After a brief professional career, Adrian Morales took the step that made sense for a former player with his leadership ability: he got into coaching.
After working as an assistant with the Gamecocks, Morales got the head coaching job at his junior college alma mater (in his home town) Miami Dade Community College. He coached the Sharks for four seasons and was named the conference’s Coach of the Year for his final three years.
This weekend, Morales accepted a new challenge in a familiar place with a familiar name.
Adrian Morales was named the head coach at Nova Southeastern University. The move to a new school won’t require much distance as Morales will be moving from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. He also won’t have to become acquainted with a new mascot name with his new school as NSU is also called the Sharks.
NSU is a step up for Morales as he makes the move from the junior college ranks to Division-II. The Sharks won the 2016 national championship and are one of the premier D-II baseball programs in the country, along with North Greenville University, coached by fellow Gamecock great Landon Powell.