Morisaki puts injury behind him, accepts new role with team

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Kalispell Lakers AA's Kaeden Morisaki on Thursday, July 26. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

Most players would feel pretty bitter.

Or even cheated and want to play the ‘Why Me’ game.

But not Keaden Morisaki.

His positive energy takes care of all that negative stuff.

Morisaki, a standout catcher with the Kalispell Lakers AA American Legion baseball team, had high expectations — individually and for the team — for his final season. But those were all cut short during a routine swing at a pitch back on June 3 in a conference doubleheader at Griffin Field versus the rival Missoula Mavericks.

“I remember because it was two days after (high school) graduation (from Flathead),” he said.

“I was batting, swung and missed. My leg gave out underneath me.”

Morisaki left the game because he couldn’t “stand up.”

He spent the rest of the game in the dugout.

A few days later, he realized his right knee was hurting big time.

One month later — July 3 — he had knee surgery.

“I waited for the swelling to go down,” he said after the injury.

“I thought it was possible I could still play again depending on how much pain I could tolerate after a month of therapy. I wasn’t making any progress.”

Thus, the surgery.

“It was tough,” he said.

“My first time being injured. I did what I could to get better, help out with these guys when I could.

“I’ve been around,” he said of practices and home games.

“As many as I can. I keep the score book, get everyone up, talk guys up. I’ve played with most of these guys for all my life.”

Morisaki said it has been challenging at times being in the dugout instead of on the field.

“I’ve come to terms with it,” he said.

“At first it was tough watching them play and not being out there with them.”

“Keaden was the most methodical player when it came to focusing on the little details,” Lakers AA coach Ryan Malmin said.

“His play behind the dish improved dramatically last year and we saw tremendous growth offensively in the first part of this season. Even though he has been out for most of the season, he has been with us every step of the way pointing out those details to his teammates, which speaks to his character.”

He came into the season looking to improve his throwing times to second on pickoff attempts and to be a more consistent hitter. Playing in the state AA tournament, which begins today at Griffin Field, would be the perfect way to close out his career. But that doesn’t matter any more.

“At this point, I’m just glad to be out here,” he said.

“These guys have become a family to me, more than anything else, and so I have learned what it means to be part of the team, compete. I’ve played on a lot of teams, hockey and baseball, this definitely being the best team. Everybody trusts each other. Nobody puts themselves before the team.”

His next big date is Aug. 10th. That’s when the brace comes off.

“No sports until this winter,” he said.

By that time he will be a student at Boston College, majoring in psychology.

In the meantime, his message to the Lakers for state ...

“Take it one game at a time,”

And he will be there to make sure it happens.

“I have always been pretty patient,” he said.

“I kind of wondered (before the season started), how life would be without baseball. This (injury) has prepared me for that.”

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