Feb. 12, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina senior pitcher Morgan McKinney has been selected this season's "Leggett No. 7 Legacy" player as chosen by head coach Bobby Moranda and the Catamount baseball coaching staff. McKinney, a left-handed starter, will wear the No. 7 jersey which was made famous at WCU by former coaching great, Jack Leggett.
McKinney, who was voted a 2013 team captain at the conclusion of fall workouts, is the third player to have the legacy honor bestowed upon. Former Catamount catcher Stephen Notaro was the first recipient with left-handed pitcher Vance Chavis receiving the honor in 2012.
The annual program was introduced by Moranda at the "Celebration of Catamount Baseball" banquet held on campus in conjunction with the 2011 season-opening weekend that year. The WCU coaching staff selects one player each year that is committed to keeping with the principles and integrity established by the former Catamount skipper during his tenure.
"Among the many great past individuals that have influenced the success and the prestige of Western Carolina baseball, Jack Leggett stands out above most. His legacy lives on here every day," said Moranda of the Leggett Legacy tradition. "Every season, we will name one player who exemplifies what it is to be a Catamount baseball player and that is deserving to wear the No. 7 jersey to honor the foundation laid by Jack."
McKinney matched the team's most victories on the mound in 2012, winning six games. He recorded at least two strikeouts in all but one start, posting five-or-more K's seven times. In just his second career start, he fanned nine batters in six innings of work in picking up the victory against Fordham. He later struck out a career-best 10 in 6.1 innings against Davidson. He twice worked into the ninth inning against both the College of Charleston and Georgia Southern.
A junior college transfer from Sante Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., prior to the 2011 season, McKinney underwent Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow in 2010. As a redshirt sophomore in 2011, he ranked second on the WCU squad with 26 relief appearances, used in a left-handed situational role, finishing with 9.1 innings pitched.
"It is an honor to bestow upon Morgan the `Leggett No. 7' for this year," said Moranda. "He is just outstanding. He went through Tommy John surgery out of junior college, came in here and has worked hard. He spent a year in relief and has really sacrificed. His attitude is just `A-plus' in everything he does. He's tough on the mound, really competes. He's the perfect Jack Leggett guy."
Entering his senior season, McKinney has made 41 appearances including 26 out of the bullpen in 2011 and 15 starts a year ago. He's tossed 93.2 innings with 82 career strikeouts.
To earn the honor of the "Leggett No. 7 Legacy," a Catamount baseball player must have a passion for the game of baseball; show total intensity daily; do more with less; use adversity as preparation for greatness; and be committed to the ideals of T.E.A.M. by displaying: T-Toughness, E-Effort, A-Approach to find a way to M-Make it Happen.
The first year, catcher Stephen Notaro wore the honorary jersey No. 7 as the first honoree in the Leggett Legacy. Notaro hit .335 overall that season, and finished second to Catamount teammate Ross Heffley in the SoCon in hitting in league games only a season ago at .394 with six home runs and four doubles with 28 RBI.
In 2012, fifth-year senior Vance Chavis donned the No. 7 jersey, finishing the year with 28 appearances to rank second on the team. The Laurinburg, N.C., native posted a 2.08 ERA through 26.0 innings pitched, striking out 25 batters.
Leggett, who is entering his 20th season on the bench with the Clemson Tigers, spent nine seasons in the dugout in Cullowhee, amassing a program-best 302 career victories from 1983 through 1991. He guided the Catamounts to 10 combined Southern Conference championships and five NCAA tournament appearances.
He also helped shape the future of WCU baseball by recruiting and coaching his three successors in Keith LeClair, Rodney Hennon and Todd Raleigh. Leggett's three protégés combined to win 567 games and a combined eight SoCon titles in 15 seasons, while also capturing five SoCon Coach of the Year honors.
"It is an honor to continue to be remembered in such a manner at Western Carolina," said Leggett. "WCU and Catamount baseball is a big part of my life and coaching career. I am privileged to have that number 7 hanging on the fence at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium, and honored to have a deserving student-athlete wear the number during the season."
During his tenure as an assistant coach at Wake Forest, Virginia and Georgia Tech, Moranda coached against Leggett's Clemson Tiger teams.
The 2013 Opening Day is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 15 as the Catamounts host Washington State for a three-game, nonconference set at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.