It was another solid year on the diamond for Columbia County baseball teams.
Four of the five public schools earned state playoff berths, with Greenbrier making it all the way to the Class AAAA championship series. The Wolfpack finished the season 31-5.
Harlem put together another 20-win season under coach Jimmie Lewis before bowing out in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs to Columbus High School. The Blue Devils went on to win the state title and were ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation.
Evans made the playoffs, relying on a trio of talented freshmen in the starting lineup. All in all, it was a terrific season.
Now the hard part: selecting the all-county team. Nearly 40 athletes made my list of players deserving recognition. Here is how I broke it down:
Catcher: Taylor Glover (Greenbrier/junior)
Glover was coming off a sophomore campaign in which he hit .477 with five homers and 37 RBI, so he had set the bar pretty high for himself. Even so, he managed to have another tremendous year for the Wolfpack. He hit .395 with an area-best 19 doubles. He had a .495 on-base percentage and led Greenbrier in RBI (36) and walks (23). He struck out just nine times all season, and was terrific defensively as well. He was selected for first team All-Region.
Glover had 73 RBI and only 13 strikeouts in the last two seasons.
Infield: Hunter Boose (Greenbrier/senior)
Boose had a sensational year for the ’Pack. He hit .341 with four homers and 23 RBI. He also smashed 14 doubles and led the area with 41 runs scored. He has signed to play at Augusta State University next season. He was named first team All-Region.
Infield: Tyler Moore (Evans/senior)
Moore hit .380 for the Knights this season. The speedy athlete also had nine doubles, scored 29 runs and stole 16 bases. He has signed to play at USC Aiken next season. Moore was also a first team All-Region choice.
Infield: Tanner Durand (Lakeside/junior)
Durand emerged as one of the county’s top hitters in 2012. The Panthers first baseman hit .360 and led Lakeside in RBI. He was a first team All-Region selection in 2-AAAA.
Infield: Aaron Moore (Harlem/junior)
Moore was somehow omitted from the 3-AAA All-Region first team. I am not sure how. He hit .349 for Harlem, and led the Bulldogs with 31 RBI. He was definitely a key reason Harlem advanced to the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
Infield: Adam Grice (Greenbrier/junior)
Grice was often overlooked on a very talented Greenbrier team, but numbers don’t lie. He hit .336 and was third on the team with 30 RBI.
He was one of five players to play in all 36 games for the ’Pack.
Outfield: Bryson Serigney (Harlem/sophomore)
Serigney hit .418 last season as a freshman, so teams were certainly keying on him this spring. Well, despite the added attention, Serigney still hit .382 with 23 RBI.
He also gave the Bulldogs a boost on the mound. He was a first team All-Region selection and is among the top players in Georgia in the class of 2014.
Outfield: Jeremy Clements (Evans/junior)
Clements emerged as one of the top hitters for the Knights this season. He led the team with a .382 batting average. He also drove in 22 runs. He was one of five Evans players to earn first team All-Region honors.
Outfield: Clint Hardy (Greenbrier/junior)
Hardy was at his best in big games for the ’Pack. Then again, he hit .484 this year, so he was pretty darn good all the time. He was second in the area with 39 runs scored, he hit two homers, and drove in 17 runs. He also struck out just 10 times all season.
Utility: Jordan Hunt (Greenbrier/senior)
Hunt had one of the finest years in county history. When you consider how good he was at the plate and on the mound, it is hard to argue.
He led the county in batting (.491), home runs (eight), and was second in RBI with 35. His on-base percentage was a whopping .590. He also went 10-1 on the mound with a 1.71 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 77.67 innings of work. He was the Region 2-AAAA Player of the Year, Augusta Chronicle Player of the Year, and first team All-State.
Pitcher: Austin Robinson (Greenbrier/junior)
Robinson picked up where he left off as a junior. After going 8-3 with a 2.36 ERA in 2011, he was even better in 2012. He finished the season 11-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 14 starts for the state runners-up. He was named first team All-Region and will be one of the top pitchers in Georgia next season.
Pitcher: Chaise Dukes (Harlem/junior)
Dukes came on strong this season for the Bulldogs. He finished the year 8-3, but boasted the best ERA in the county at 1.40. How he was left off the 3-AAA All-Region team should be under investigation.
Pitcher: Kyle Anderson (Evans/freshman)
Anderson joins a select group of ninth-graders (Rich Poythress, Bradley Key and Bryson Serigney, to name a few) to earn first eam All-County honors. He finished the year 6-3, but his 2.21 ERA and 63 strikeouts in just 54 innings are hard to ignore.
He and his twin brother Matt (a freshman catcher) should form one of the best batteries in the state for the next three years.
Catcher: Matt Anderson (Evans/freshman)
Had six doubles, 13 RBI, and threw out 75 percent of would-be base stealers.
Infield: Lane Wallace (Lakeside/junior)
Wallace might be the most versatile player in the county. He played infield, outfield, and pitched for the Panthers this year, and he did it well enough to earn first team All-Region Honors in 2-AAAA. He hit over .340 and was Lakeside’s Most Valuable Player.
Infield: Cameron Busby (Grovetown/sophomore)
Hit a team-best .418 with 12 RBI, and is a terrific defensive shortstop.
Infield: Ryan Beasley (Grovetown/junior)
Hit .333 with 13 RBI while manning the hot corner for the Warriors.
Infield: Phillip Dukes (Grovetown/senior)
Hit .358 with one home run and 17 RBI. He went 2-1 on the mound with 19 strikeouts in 25 innings.
Outfield: Spencer Duffie (Greenbrier/senior)
Duffie’s batting average was down from .411 in 2011 to .327 this season, but he was a key player for a squad that spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the state. He was a first team All-Region choice and was named to the Northeast Georgia Senior All-Star Team.
Outfield: Jordan Rice (Evans/senior)
Rice hit .300 with four homers and 25 RBI for the Knights, and was my toughest omission from the first team.
Outfield: Logan May (Harlem/senior)
May did it all for the Bulldogs this season. He hit over .340 and led the team in home runs. He also was a key member of the pitching staff. He was one of only two Bulldogs chosen to the 3-AAA first team All-Region Squad.
Utility: Garrett Wilkinson (Evans/sophomore)
Hit .305 for the Knights with two homers and 17 RBI. He also gave Evans a boost on the mound this season, going 3-3 with a 2.50 ERA.
Utility: Eric Fogle (Augusta Christian/senior)
Fogle had a big year for the Lions, hitting over .450 with 14 doubles, and led the county with 18 stolen bases. He also was solid on the mound.
Pitcher: Tyler Roberts (Evans/junior)
Was 4-3 with a 2.14 ERA this season.
Pitcher: Garret Haskins (Grovetown/senior)
Set a 3.04 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 52 innings.
Augusta Christian: Frank Fleming, Sean Sweeting. Ben Dewitt, Matt Herzwurm
Harlem: Dalton Green, Devin Critell, Tyler Thigpen, Gregg Thompson, Aaron Hintz, Tyler Wirsu
Lakeside: Tanner Brassell, Hunter Hubbard
Greenbrier: Christian Hill
Grovetown: Cody McAlister
Chris Wilkins (Greenbrier)
Wilkins had some talent this season, but there is no denying the impact he has had for the Wolfpack. The team finished 31-5 and advanced to the AAAA finals, despite playing arguably the toughest schedule in the entire state.
Perhaps more important has been the development of talent under Wilkins. The last two Columbia County Player of the Year winners, Will Price and Jordan Hunt, came out of nowhere to post monster numbers during their senior campaign. While the two players deserve credit for their hard work, there is no doubt that Wilkins and his staff had a major hand in the improvement.
In addition to the improvement of Hunt, others players stepped up out of obscurity to have big years for Greenbrier. Most notably might have been Adam Grice. He went from a virtual unknown to 30 RBI. Combine the player development, the challenging schedule and the 31 victories, and this year’s Coach of the Year was an easy choice.
Jordan Hunt (Greenbrier)
Hunt can add 2012 Columbia County Player of the Year to his growing list of accolades. He has already been named the Region 2-AAAA Player of the Year, The Augusta Chronicle Player of the Year, and was named to Team Georgia.
Hunt earned every bit of the recognition. He was arguably the best two-way player in the state this season. He narrowly missed out on winning the county Triple Crown by hitting a county-best .491 with eight home runs and 35 RBI (his RBI total was just one behind teammate Taylor Glover’s 36). His on-base percentage was a sizzling .590, which was also tops in the county.
The only thing better than Hunt at the plate might have been Hunt on the mound. The senior Righthander was 10-1 on the season with a sensational 1.71 ERA. Hunt will be a preferred walk-on at Georgia Tech next season, and I have no doubt that he will find his way into some time in Atlanta before he is done.