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Connolly, Morse are Region XX All-Academic choices
Seven Skipjacks have made elite team since 2004

WYE MILLS – Two Chesapeake College student athletes – softball player Katie Connolly and baseball player Ryan (R.J.) Morse – have been selected to the 2006 Region XX All-Academic team.

Morse is a repeat selection, having been one of two Skipjacks named to the 2005 team. Connolly is a first-time selection.

"It’s impressive how successful they’ve been in budgeting their time so they can be dedicated to both academics and athletics," said Frank Szymanski, Chesapeake College’s athletic director and head baseball coach. "They’re the type of student athletes you love to recruit."

Seven Skipjacks have made the Region XX All-Academic team in the past three years. Connolly and Morse are now candidates for Academic All-American status, which Skipjacks have claimed two years running. Cyril Djoukeng was an Academic All-American in 2004 and Sharon Germann was an Academic All-American last year.

"We’re proud of the academic achievements of our student athletes," said Chesapeake College President Stuart M. Bounds. "Katie and R.J. are great role models not only for all of our student athletes, but for all of our students."

Connolly, who has a perfect 4.0 quality-point average, said the honor isn’t hers alone.

"My family has always been behind me and I’ve got a coaching staff and teammates who have always been there to help," said Connolly, a third baseman for the Skipjacks who graduated from Queen Anne’s County High School. "Everybody at Chesapeake is so supportive. It’s a great school with great people."

Connolly, who plans to study Sports Management at the University of California in Pennsylvania, said she chose Chesapeake over starting at a four-year institution for several reasons.

"I liked the feeling I got when I came to Chesapeake," said Connolly, who started the week as the fourth-leading hitter in Maryland JuCo with a .526 batting average. "It felt like I was at home – which I guess I was. I had scholarships to go to four-year schools, but I just felt Chesapeake fit me better. I felt like I was coming into a family that made me feel welcome."

Connolly praised the work of softball head coach Melissa Thompson and assistant Bill Faust.

"I’ve had plenty of coaches," said Connolly. "I’ve never had a coach who has been so supportive. This is probably the best coaching staff I’ve ever been coached by."

While Connolly is from Chesapeake College’s service region, Morse graduated from Catoctin High School in Frederick County. Morse said he chose Chesapeake for some of the same reasons mentioned by Connolly.

"I like the area, I like the campus and I like the close-knit family feeling," said Morse, who has a 3.88 quality-point average. "It resembles Catoctin, where everybody knew you and everybody was willing to help."

Morse, who was 2-0 with an impressive 2.56 earned-run average heading into his pitching start Thursday against the College of Southern Maryland, said he was honored to be recognized by Region XX.

"It’s nice to be noticed and commended on all the hard work I’ve been putting into school," said Morse, who plans to attend the University of Maryland Baltimore County next fall to pursue a computer graphics web design program. "It’s not easy by any stretch to balance baseball and practices with homework and class. This recognition is a nice honor."

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