Throughout the 1980s and into the mid-1990s, former Evans High School coach Terry Holder built Evans into a baseball powerhouse that could go toe-to-toe with any program in the country.
Since Holder left in 1996 to coach at Greenbrier High School, the Knights have not captured another state title, although the school has had plenty of solid seasons.
A few years ago, a Holder disciple, Ricky Beale, was given the job of trying to return the Knights to state championship glory on the diamond. With the expectations of people in Columbia County and the legacy left by Holder, the Knights baseball job is a bit of a pressure cooker. Beale undoubtedly took his share of criticism in his first few seasons.
Hopefully, he has gone a long way to erase any doubt that people had about his ability to lead the team during the past two seasons. The Knights have won 42 games and had a Final Four appearance in 2005, which was followed by this year's run to the state quarterfinals.
Last season, the Knights were expected to go deep into the Class AAAA tournament. They did not disappoint. After losing starting pitchers Hank McCladdie (Morehouse College) and Brad Freeman (Middle Georgia College), and first baseman Ryan Pressley (drafted by the L.A. Angels) and Mr. Versatility Zach Baker (South Georgia College), the Knights also lost third baseman Kenny Raborn (University of South Carolina Aiken) and pitcher Tim Steflik (USC Aiken).
Despite being hit so hard by graduation, the Knights made another nice run in 2006. They started with a rough stretch that saw Evans lose five of eight games in mid-March and post an unimpressive 9-9 mark from March 17-May 2. After a loss to Effingham County late in the season, however, the Knights began to heat up. The team reeled off wins in seven of their next eight games.
Sure, Evans' season came to an end after a two-game sweep by Marist, but an Elite Eight appearance is nothing to sneeze at.
The Knights lost a large group of seniors this year, so 2007 might be a rebuilding year. I have a feeling that Beale will reload quickly, and the Knights program is in good hands.
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