Transfer boosts Wildwood

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CHRIS MORMILE WILDWOOD – Admit it. When you saw the headline, you first thought about one of the Wildwood High School basketball teams.

When the word “transfer” is used in these parts, the immediate question asked by area sports fans usually pertains to which local high school received (or lost) one for basketball.

But while basketball transfers are always hot topic of conversation, the athletes who transfer for other sports usually do so with much less fanfare even though their impact can still be rather significant.

Take the case of Chris Mormile.

A transfer from Egg Harbor Township High School, Mormile moved to the Wildwoods for his sophomore year and joined the baseball team at Wildwood High School. Almost quietly, the shortstop and pitcher has emerged as one of the better players in the area despite being just 15 years old.

Mormile continued his hot start to the season by going 5 for 7 with two doubles, four runs scored and two RBI as the Warriors swept a doubleheader from Salem Monday. Mormile’s two-run single to right center in the opener with two outs in the sixth inning broke a 2-2 tie, sending the Warriors to an eventual 5-3 victory. He was 3 for 4 in the opener before going 2 for 3 in the 5-0 victory in Game 2 that was highlighted by Matt Bolle’s no-hitter (see related story).

The big offensive day boosted Mormile’s average to an impressive .511 for the season. His 24 hits, nine doubles, 11 extra-base hits, 17 runs scored and 37 total bases are all team highs. He has struck out only five times in 57 plate appearances.

That’s all from a player who wasn’t initially expected to contribute as much at the plate.

“I didn’t really expect him to help us as much as he has hitting,” Wildwood coach Rich Hans admitted. “I expected him to fill in that shortstop spot that we really needed to fill because I knew he was good in the field. I also knew he’d give us some good innings on the mound. But he’s given us a great bat in the middle of the lineup. He started the year batting fifth and now he’s at third and I think that alone tells you he’s one of the best hitters around here. He hits the ball hard every time up. He just goes up there and looks to hit it hard somewhere.”

On the mound, Mormile leads the Warriors with a 1.61 ERA. He has an impressive 21 strikeouts and only six walks in 17 1/3 innings pitched.

Mormile was a junior varsity starter at EHT last year as a freshman. His move from one of the largest schools in South Jersey to one of the smallest has been seamless, both on the field and in the school’s hallways.

“It’s been good so far,” Mormile said. “Everyone treats me with respect, as if they’ve known me my whole life. They welcomed me nicely. The school system is good and I like it here.”

Mormile said he came to Wildwood only with expectations of having a chance to start for the baseball team.

“I didn’t want to have a big head for myself,” said Mormile, whose freshman younger brother, Andrew, is also in the Warrior program. “I figured I’d get a fair shot, as much as anyone. I didn’t come here expecting anything but I thought I could play most of my time at varsity.”

Hans said the atmosphere around the team and the school has helped Mormile’s transition.

“We’re a small school, obviously,” Hans said. “I think if a kid goes to a big school he can get mixed into the shuffle and get a little lost. But everyone’s always welcoming here and I knew he’d fit right in here. Sometimes it’s a lot harder to fit in at a big school, or if you’re a middle-of-the-pack (talent) and you have to fight for a position. He was a good enough player that all the guys knew he could help us. They all liked him right away. He’s talented and we’re a small team, so he had no trouble getting on the field here. He plays really hard. The guys like how hard he plays.”

They obviously like how well he plays, too.

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