Although school has been out for over a month and Wildcat baseball’s 2007 playoff run is becoming a distant memory, Richmond Hill’s Jeremey Goolsby is taking up where his team left off. The Richmond Hill senior is tearing up the summer league circuit this off-season and has helped lead coach Sean Strickland’s Summer Cats to a berth in this week’s GRPA senior state tournament in Springfield - for that he has earned Bryan County News co-athlete of the month for June.
The soft spoken Goolsby was surprised this past Thursday at Beef O’ Brady’s - his parents’, Doug and Georgia Goolsby, family-owned restaurant. Asked to be there, but not told for what, Goolsby may have suspected he was going to be put to work as he does daily when not on the field practicing or playing baseball, but a gathering of his coach, family and the Bryan County News staff soon let the cat out of the bag. Coach Sean Strickland spoke first of Goolsby’s award.
"At the start of the summer I told Jeremey that we would win or lose with him in the middle of our line up, and he has been pivotal in our success...he hasn’t disappointed... my only struggle as a coach so far is figuring out how to get runners on base ahead of him," said Strickland on his clean-up hitters batting performance thus far.
Strickland explained that some teams, after seeing his power, will intentionally pitch around Goolsby and Strickland has had to move him around in the line up to try and counter that.
After finishing the regular season with a .375 batting average, a .611 slugging percentage, three home runs and 25 runs batted in, saying the Richmond Hill slugger is improving his hitting skills over the summer is a scary prospect for region pitchers next season.
Strickland went on to praise Goolsby for his confidence and ability to hit all pitches, at all counts and for thinking along with the pitcher. Goolsby, the teams first baseman has also led on the field.
With a young infield coming back next season, Goolsby often saves errant throws from them and has also taken on the role of being the on the field "quarterback". "Jeremey always knows what is next. Often when I am calling out instructions, plays or signals from the dugout Goolsby is already on the field shouting out the same instructions to his team mates - he is a vocal leader on the field" said Strickland.
That field presence and intelligence has made its way from Goolsby’s classroom work and on to the field. The Richmond Hill honor student finished his junior year with a 3.8 grade point average and on his most recent SAT missed only two questions on the math portion of the college entrance exam.
Goolsby hopes to take advantage of his math and baseball skills by playing college baseball while pursuing a degree in engineering at a yet to be determined choice of schools. When asked how important summer baseball is to him and his team Goolsby heaped praise on his team and coaches for putting in the extra effort to help make them better players.
"To me, personally it is a tremendous help, I feel my swing is now 100 times better, my fielding is improving, and all the upcoming varsity is out there too." stated Goolsby after receiving his award.
While Dad, Doug Goolsby, has been the one who keeps up with most of Jeremey’s on field accomplishments over the years, Mom, Georgia Goolsby shared a bit about what she thinks got him there.
"He lives and breaths baseball. When he was four he ran out on the field at one his brothers ball games and he has been out there ever since." said Mrs. Goolsby. Another anecdote from his past helps explain Goolsby’s drive for excellence on the field as she shared what she coined a "Mom memory".
"When he was in the second grade playing on an all-star team he got hit in the head with a bat. I was of course horrified, Doug and I ran to his side, he had blood coming from his ear, and when we tried to get him off the field all he could do was complain that he needed to get his turn at bat"
That says it all.