Over the final four innings of his latest outing, Cade Moring recorded 11 of the 12 outs on strikeouts while showcasing a devastating arsenal. When he’s going good as on that day, Moring’s fastball has enough cheddar to beat hitters up in the zone and his breaking ball invites the opposition to swing even as it dive bombs into the dirt. The stuff is exceptional.
And this is the same guy who walked 14 batters in only 18.2 innings of work last season as a junior. What he did next is what really impressed head coach Ryan Dupic. Moring did not pout about playing time. He took ownership of his struggles and figured out how to improve himself.
Dupic vividly recalls a conversation he had with Cade’s father Stuart when Cade was a sophomore in 2016.
“His dad came up to me and my first thought is, ‘Here we go. He wants to come talk to me about playing time,’” Dupic said. “Instead his dad said, ‘I talked to Cade and he told me that he’s not pitching yet but he knows what he needs to work on and he’s going to work really hard and get it figured out.’ I’ve coached for 11 years and I’ve never had a parent say that to me, where a kid took complete responsibility like that. At that moment, I thought, he’s got a shot here.”
Two years later Moring is one of Dupic’s most trusted arms. He is also one of college baseball’s most prolific strikeout artists, averaging 15.5 punch outs per nine innings. His 46.1 innings pitched this season are more than he logged his previous three years combined (44). In five of his nine starts this spring, Moring has registered 10 or more strikeouts. Eighty of his 122 career K’s have come since Feb. 25.
Moring insists he’s just trying to get hitters out any way he can, but the strikeouts come in handy, particularly with men on base.
“You definitely don’t go into the season thinking about getting double-digit strikeout games,” Moring said. “Pitchers love to strike people out but at the same time, our ultimate goal is to get outs whether it’s a fly out, a ground out or a strikeout. Even if I only get two strikeouts and we get the win, I’m satisfied with the outcome.”
Dupic noticed a change in Moring when he arrived back in the fall. For the first time in his college career, the native of Eagar, Ariz., decided not to go home for the summer. Instead he played summer ball for the Storm Lake Whitecaps (coached by alum Nic Seaman), a member of the Pioneer Collegiate Baseball League. Moring stayed with a host family in Storm Lake, Iowa, and put his focus on developing a successful process without focusing on the results.
Moring estimates that he made about eight starts covering roughly 40 innings for the Whitecaps. It was a more fruitful and productive baseball summer than the ones Moring had spent in Arizona the previous few years.
“What I decided to do was throw the majority of my fastballs to my glove side, so in to a right-handed hitter,” Moring said. “I think doing that and continuing to be aggressive with the breaking ball throughout the summer helped me gain a lot of confidence. I learned I could go inside to a righty and trust the action on my breaking ball and get guys out.”
Sure Moring has a knee-buckling slider/curveball, or “slurve,” but it seems that some of the intangibles are what has driven his improvement. Calm and mature, Moring has grown exponentially by focusing on doing the little things right. Moring recognized that his process leading up to a start at College of the Ozarks on March 17 was a little bit off. He knew he waited too long to begin his warmup process.
The very next outing he tossed a seven-inning complete game, allowed just two runs and racked up a career high 15 strikeouts in a win over Mount Marty.
Said Dupic, “When I follow him around and watch him at practice with the habits and the routines he has – if I could make everyone on my pitching staff have the same habits, routines and attention to detail he has, I would be perfectly happy with the way our guys practice on a consistent basis. That’s fun for us to see as a coaching staff. It’s what you emphasize, but to see that come to life and equal success is pretty encouraging.”
When Moring speaks these days about what’s led to his success, he sounds like he’s reading right off a script written by his head coach. Clearly things have sunk in for the lefty, who says he doesn’t want to be finished with baseball even once his senior season ends. Before that happens, let us appreciate more of what Moring has learned about how to go about his business.
“I approach each outing the same,” Moring said. “Coach Dupic is always saying that practice should be more challenging than the game. Then when you get to the game it’s not necessarily going to be easy, but you feel confident and prepared. If you have a bad week of preparation that’s probably what you’re going to have on the mound that week.”
A similar team-wide approach could help extend Moring’s career. Though the defending GPAC champion Bulldogs (18-15, 6-8 GPAC) have yet to string together much of a win streak in conference play, they could be a dangerous team should they advance to the GPAC tournament. Moring teams with the likes of Nick Little, Jason Munsch and Wade Council on a strong rotation one through four.
For Moring, the process won’t change down the stretch. He’s hoping for at least a few more opportunities to make hitters look silly.