The Greenbrier High School baseball team entered the 2001 campaign with a difficult task - the Wolfpack had to replace two of the best players the school has produced, in pitcher-infielder Bradley Key and slugging first baseman Chad Thornhill.
Southpaw Alan Cannell also moved on, and currently plays for Augusta State University.
Some fans thought the Pack might be in trouble in 2002. Instead, behind torrid hitting and the pitching of senior Nick Wandless, Greenbrier has raced to the front in Region 3-AAAA.
Wandless began his prep career behind the plate, but moved to the outfield last season when Virginia Tech signee Robert Davis transferred in.
Now Wandless has found a new role - big game pitcher!
In the Pack's 10-4 win last week over Lakeside, Wandless struck out 10 Panthers during the complete-game victory. Wandless also had two of Greenbrier's 16 hits to help the Pack remain unbeaten in Region 3-AAAA.
Wandless improved his record to 4-1, with a 2.70 earned run average. He also upped his strikeout total to 40 in 31 innings of work.
Not bad for a guy who had never been a starting pitcher till this spring.
"With Seth (Newsome) transferring, Aaron (Hill) breaking his ankle, and Philip's (Tapley) arm trouble, we needed someone to step up, and Nick's been the guy," Greenbrier coach Ed Williams said.
With Newsome going to Evans, and with Hill and Tapley injured, it's easy to say that Greenbrier's success was up in the air.
But thanks to the pitching of Wandless, plus the hitting of Graham Posey, Davis, Tapley and Nick's younger brother, Scott, the Pack is back in a familiar position - atop Region 3-AAAA.
Yankees release Evans alum
Back on Dec. 21, the New York Yankees signed defensive-minded catcher Albert Castillo to a minor league contract.
Then, in February, the Yankees added catcher Chris Widger and first baseman-catcher Jim Leyritz, signing both with minor league deals.
These signings had to make former Evans High School star Todd Greene a little antsy. Last season Greene was New York's backup catcher, behind emerging star Jorge Posada.
Greene's fears came to fruition last week - he was released by the Yankees on Thursday morning.
Despite being second-string, Greene had some amazing experiences in 2001: a curtain call following a game-tying, three-run homer in his first game at Yankee Stadium; catching the ceremonial first pitch from President Bush in the World Series; and, recording a base hit off Arizona's Randy Johnson during Game 6 of the Fall Classic.
Even with all of that, Greene's job was in jeopardy this spring.
But with the pressure on, Greene again has shown his resiliency. He went 3 for 3 with a home run and six RBI to spark New York to an 11-5 win over Pittsburgh in spring training action last week.
After that productive outing, the Columbia County product was hitting .440 to lead all Yankee players with two or more at bats. Also, Greene had four homers and 12 RBI through just 11 spring games. His home run ratio of one per every six at-bats easily leads the team.
And that still wasn't enough to make the roster - talk about a raw deal.
Greene had previously been released by Anaheim and Toronto, but managed to come back and wear the New York pinstripes.
As he has done so many time in his career, Greene has to once again prove his doubters wrong.
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