At first glance it might not appear that Nolan Belcher was made to play baseball.
At 5-feet-7-inches and 165 pounds, he is hardly an imposing figure. He burst onto the scene as a freshman for Augusta Christian in 2005. His brother, Jordan, had been a star player for the Lions' 1999 state title team and was later drafted by the Cincinnati Reds.
As the Lions racked up win after win in 2005, people began to talk about a tough young lefty named Nolan. The hype was warranted as Belcher did not yield an earned run until his final start of the year.
In 2005, Belcher posted some astonishing numbers. He was 10-0 with 94 strikeouts in just 47 innings and an ERA of 0.13. He became the first freshman to earn County Player of the Year honors. Belcher also overcame questions about his height and Augusta Christian's strength of schedule.
His brother faced the same things as a Lion. During his time at ACS, it was rumored each year that he was transferring to Greenbrier. But he stayed.
Nolan Belcher chose a different path. He decided he wanted to test himself against the best by enrolling at Greenbrier before the 2006 season began.
His doubters were left highly disappointed.
The talented lefty put together the greatest single-season pitching performance in county history. He was 15-0 with a county record 156 strikeouts in 91 innings with a 0.73 ERA.
Opposing teams picked on him about his size, but they were held to an .085 batting average. He also drove in 32 runs while hitting .395 with 13 doubles on the way to another state title.
For his efforts Belcher captured another County Player of the Year award and was featured in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd." After two seasons he had two state title rings. Not bad for someone more likely mistaken for a middle schooler than a big league prospect.
Like myself, many people wondered how he became such a good player. He could hit, was excellent in the outfield and could pitch. Where did all this talent come from?
It came from countless pitches thrown in his yard to a live-in pitching coach, his father, Brian Belcher.
Nolan's dad was a good player in his own right. He played four seasons for Augusta College where he rewrote the pitching record books, finishing his career in 1977 as one of the best pitchers in Jaguar history.
He was the career leader in virtually every pitching category. He still ranks in the top five in every major pitching statistic. He's second in innings pitched (304.6), fourth in ERA (2.98), fourth in wins (17), and second in complete games (23). Nolan Belcher is a chip off the old block.
Nolan's older sister, Lindsey, was a terrific athlete at Augusta Christian, and there is no doubt Jordan Belcher will go down as one of the best hitters in county history, but Nolan is the one who somehow was blessed with his dad's pitching ability.
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