I have a message for the Greenbrier High School baseball team: Hold your heads high; you gave all of us a fun ride over the last few weeks.
Sure, it stings to come so close to a state title and lose. I understand that. It should hurt. If it didn’t hurt, teams would not begin each February with a state crown as their ultimate goal. This might sound obnoxious, but for most of those teams, it is just talk. It is what coaches say to try and motivate their teams. In Columbia County, and especially at Greenbrier, anything less than a state championship is tough to stomach.
That’s because we have all been spoiled in Columbia County. We have 21 state baseball championships (Harlem, seven; Evans, five; Greenbrier, five; and Augusta Christian, four) since Harlem claimed their first in 1974.
For Greenbrier, the winning has come at an unprecedented pace. The ’Pack has fielded 17 baseball teams and has five state titles. That is astonishing. So fans have grown to expect certain things in Columbia County, and success on the diamond is near the top of the list.
I know one thing: I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would not want to play in a county, or for a school, where they did not expect to win. Fans’ expectations can be difficult to live up to, but high expectations from supporters are better than not having support. It might be hard to believe for fans in our county, but that is what a majority of baseball teams go through each year – low expectations and little fan support and involvement. We are blessed in the county to have fans who show interest in the teams and expect success, and we have teams that deliver.
I must admit this season came as a bit of a surprise to me. Sure, I knew we would have several really good teams, but I did not think we had a championship squad in the county. Greenbrier made it all the way to the Class AAAA championship series last season, but they also graduated three First Team All-County performers, including the county, area and region player of the year in Jordan Hunt. I figured Greenbrier would be solid this season, but I was thinking Elite 8 would be a nice follow-up on their tremendous 2012 playoff run.
I underestimated the heart, drive and desire of Greenbrier’s eight seniors. I must not have realized how good a few of their underclassmen would be. I will not put a ceiling on a baseball team from our county again.
Greenbrier loses their top pitcher in Austin Robinson. They lose a four-year starter behind the plate in Taylor Glover. They lose their leader in Clint Hardy, and they graduate five other members of this year’s Class AAAAA runner-up. Next year, though, when people ask how the county looks in baseball this year, I will say, “you can never put it past any of our teams to make a run at a title.”
Thank you to the young men from the Greenbrier baseball team. Thanks for taking all of us on a great ride again this year.