It didn’t take long for new La Crosse Loggers outfielder Mitchell Morimoto to win over the Loggers’ faithful on Saturday night.
The 6-foot, 190-pound outfielder singled in his first at-bat before launching a three-run homer to right-center in his second. Morimoto reached base four times in the Loggers’ 14-9 loss against the Duluth Huskies on Saturday, going 2-for-3 with two walks and three RBI.
Not too bad for someone who hadn’t done many baseball activities for the past month.
“The adrenaline was pumping a little bit, it was my first game I played in a while,” Morimoto said. “It was a little bit of luck too. But yeah, it felt a little weird as I hadn’t played a game in so long.
“I thought it was going to be a little tougher coming in, but I was just seeing the ball really well and felt comfortable right away.”
Morimoto had to miss the first half of the Northwoods League season because he had to take a summer class at the University of Arizona. The month-long break was good for Morimoto, as it allowed his body to rest after a long spring season in Tucson where he started 46 games for the Wildcats with a .323 batting average.
“It was a nice little break,” Morimoto said. “I think I needed it because I played a lot. It’s just good to be out here again.”
His debut was impressive, for sure, smashing a home run to the deepest part of the ballpark in right-center. Morimoto is used to impressing people throughout his collegiate career, but had a hard time impressing colleges during his high school days. Morimoto was lightly recruited out of Issaquah High School (Wash.) with only one NCAA Division I offer. He decided to go the junior college route after his coach referred him to Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona.
“It was a good experience, I got a lot better,” Morimoto said. “It was a lot of baseball and a lot of sunny weather, it was a great experience.”
Morimoto tore it up in Mesa. In 2016, Morimoto led the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference in batting average (.430) and triples (11). He was also second in the league in hits (96) and runs scored (70). Soon he had multiple offers, eventually deciding on Arizona.
“Arizona came and that was one of my dream schools,” Morimoto said. “Arizona, with the nice weather, I just have always loved it down there.”
When opening day came, Morimoto found himself leading off and playing left field for the Wildcats. Left field is where Morimoto will most often find himself playing for the Loggers this summer, but he is comfortable in any of the outfield spots and has experience playing infield as well. Morimoto was excited to get to La Crosse and join fellow Wildcats Cameron Cannon and Jason Seever on the Loggers’ roster.
“It definitely helps you to get used to the team better,” Morimoto said. “I was really happy when we all get paired together down here.
“It’s been a good experience so far. The town is nice and the atmosphere is really good. (I’m) just happy to be here.”