This was a tremendous season for Columbia County softball. Greenbrier High School continued its dominance with another region title and a state runner-up finish.
A few other schools made some noise, too. Evans battled youth and injuries to advance to the second round of the state playoffs.
The folks who want to beat Harlem better have already done it. The Bulldogs have eight of their top nine players back, including five players in 10th grade or below.
Here is a look at the 2010 All-County Team.
Catcher: Kayla Cates, junior, Evans
Cates hit .300 for the Knights, but her value came from her defensive work behind the plate.
One area coach mentioned her as one of the most improved players in the county over the course of her career.
She was named All-Region in 2-AAAA, and she helped lead Evans to the second round of the state playoffs.
Infield: Savanna Gladue, sophomore, Evans
Gladue might have been the county's top leadoff hitter. She batted .444 with an eye-popping on-base percentage of .519. She used her terrific speed to score 34 runs for the Knights and earned All-Region honors.
Infield: Casey Rowland, junior, Greenbrier
Rowland put together a tremendous season for the Wolfpack. She hit .355 with four homers and 42 RBI in 44 games.
She was at her best in the postseason, and her heroics at the plate were a big reason Greenbrier made it all the way to the Class AAAA championship series.
Infield: Cara Parker, sophomore, Lakeside
Parker is one of many talented 10th-graders in the county. She was the top player for the Panthers, who were in rebuilding mode this season. She was the lone Panther named First Team All-Region.
Infield: Kristin Rawlins, sophomore, Harlem
Rawlins is one of the reasons teams had better hope they beat Harlem this year. She is solid at first base and was one of coach Mike Leverett's top hitters. She was named First Team All-Region in 3-AAA.
Outfield: Liz Kelligan, senior, Greenbrier
Kelligan was a First Team All-State honoree in Class AAAA. She was also invited to play in the GACA North-South All-Star Game.
For the season, she hit .377 with 30 RBI and 23 stolen bases as she helped Greenbrier post a 32-12 mark.
Outfield: Lindsey Stokes, freshman, Harlem
Stokes is the lone ninth-grader to earn First Team All-County honors. She had an amazing season for Harlem. She hit .482, had a .542 on-base percentage, scored 31 runs and drove in 22 en route to earning All-Region and Honorable Mention All-State honors.
Outfield: Rachel Nimmons, senior, Greenbrier
Nimmons is slight in stature, but she stood tall in Greenbrier's 9-7 region championship-clinching win over South Effingham.
With the 'Pack down a run, she blasted her first career home run, a three-run shot that proved to be the difference in the game.
Outfield: Haley Smith, senior, Greenbrier
Smith was one of Greenbrier's key contributors at the plate. For the season, she hit .357 with 15 RBI and helped spearhead the squad's run through the postseason.
Designated hitter: Gabriela Medina, senior, Grovetown
Gabby is a third baseman, but I moved her to designated hitter to get her on the first team. Grovetown had a tough year, but Medina was a huge bright spot. She had some monster games this season, including nine hits and 12 RBI in the Warriors' first three wins. She was selected First Team All-Region.
Pitcher: Savanah Coon, senior, Greenbrier
Coon was sensational down the stretch for the 'Pack, pitching every inning for the team during the Elite Eight. For the season, she was 23-8 with a 2.88 ERA and 157 strikeouts despite the team's extremely tough schedule. She helped lead Greenbrier to a finish as the Class AAAA state runner-up. For her efforts, Coon was named the Region 2-AAAA Player of the Year and Georgia Dugout Club AAAA State Player of the Year.
Pitcher: Kristen Mills, junior, Harlem
Mills was outstanding for the Bulldogs this season, recording a 22-8 record and leading the county with a sizzling 1.73 ERA and 209 strikeouts.
At the plate she was equally dangerous, hitting .396 with six homers and 34 RBI. She earned All-Region honors and was an All-State honorable mention.
She is an early front-runner for 2011 County Player of the Year.
Brooke Sarver, junior, pitcher
Tiffany Sellers, junior, pitcher
Rebecca Olson, junior, outfield
D'Layne Deas, senior, first base
Morgan Tickerhoof, junior, second base
Taylor Dupree, freshman, third base
Maggie Smith, junior, designated hitter
Kiauna Chang, junior, outfield
Taylor Tranum, freshman, pitcher
Jessica Coleman, senior, third base
Morgan Barton, sophomore, catcher
Hadley Beggs, junior, designated hitter
Tori Poss, sophomore, shortstop
Haley Mays, sophomore, outfield
Abbie Drake, sophomore, second base
Jessie Wiegers, senior, pitcher
Caroline Stanley, senior, catcher
Player of the Year
Savanah Coon (Greenbrier)
Coon is headed to play for Georgia Southern after a remarkable senior season. On the mound she was 23-8 with 157 strikeouts and a 2.88 ERA, and at the plate she hit .364 with seven homers and was among the county leaders in RBI.
While leading Greenbrier to a state runner-up finish in AAAA, she piled up so much hardware that her family might need to add a room to their house. She was named First Team All-Region, Region 2-AAAA Player of the Year and Georgia Dugout Club State Player of the Year, and she was selected to play in the GACA North-South All-Star Game in June.
She can now add Columbia County Player of the Year to her long list of accolades.
Pitcher of the Year
Kristen Mills (Harlem)
Mills was simply dominant in Class AAA. She earned the win on the mound in 22 of the Bulldogs' 24 victories. Along the way she piled up 209 strikeouts and boasted a 1.73 ERA. There is no doubt she can handle the bat, too, but it is her efforts on the mound that earn her top pitching honors in the county.
Hitter of the Year
Liz Kelligan (Greenbrier)
This was a tough call. A pair of youngsters were certainly deserving of recognition. Evans sophomore Savanna Gladue and Harlem freshman Lindsey Stokes were sensational, each hitting well over .400. Kelligan's Greenbrier teammate Casey Rowland and her 42 RBI were also hard to ignore.
In the end, the Augusta State University-bound Kelligan gets the nod. She hit .377, swiped 23 bases and drove in 30 runs. She earned First Team All-Region honors, First Team All-State in Class AAAA and will join Coon in the North-South All-Star Game.
Defensive Player of the Year
Kayla Cates (Evans)
This was another close call. Lakeside's Cara Parker and Greenbrier freshman third baseman Taylor Dupree earned high praise, but Cates wins out this season. She was steady behind the plate all season for Evans head coach Colette Cassedy. She also provided leadership for a team that had just two seniors.
Coach of the Year
Garrett Black (Greenbrier)
No need for a long, drawn-out explanation here. Greenbrier was 32-12 on the season, which included a 9-0 record against area opponents and a 6-0 mark vs. Columbia County foes. In those six games against other county teams, Greenbrier out-scored the opposition 50-9.
The 'Pack advanced to the Elite Eight for the 11th consecutive year and 12 of the past 13 seasons. They are now 15 for 15 in region titles.
With all that success, this might be Black's best coaching job, and likely his most gratifying. That is saying something, considering he has a state title under his belt. This season, there were many games in their state runner-up finish where they were facing more experienced and more talented opponents.
However, the 'Pack never gave up. They scratched and clawed their way to the finals, and it seemed like a different player stepped up every game. They had Coon on the mound, but this was far from a one-person team.
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