For a team whose accomplishments were so much a sum of all its individual parts picking out a few to bestow honors on may have been the hardest thing the Wildcats had to do this 2007 season. Last Monday night, they gave thanks to their supporters and did just that anyway.
After a catered dinner by Richmond Hill’s Southern Image Restaurant started the evening, outgoing Home Run Club president Doug Goolsby addressed the gathering of players, coaches administrators, fans and parents. Goolsby praised them all for starting last May in working to bring about the success that Richmond Hill baseball enjoyed a year later.
From summer and fall baseball, to off season conditioning and training, the preparing of the field and care for the facilities, fund-raising, spring practice and the season that was Richmond Hill at its best. Goolsby made the point that the team was much larger than the names on a roster.
Head junior varsity coach Brian Brocato introduced Richmond Hill’s baseball future, a team he said was not the most talented he ever had but was the most coach-able. Richmond Hill has not had a losing season since Brocato has been coaching them and this year's junior varsity finished the season with a 10-5 record. The junior varsity awards were given out to:
Kevin Wilson for "Best Offensive Player," Jacob Thrash "Best Defensive Player," John Phifer "Will-To-Win Athlete," Josh Candelario "Rookie of the Year," Cody Crow "Coaches Award," and Cody Rushing "Most Valuable Player."
Head varsity coach Mitchell Curry also had a lot of thanks to give. He thanked his team's parents, his team's boosters and he thanked his coaches.
Brian Brocato and Chuck Blakewood have been with Curry the last five years, and Sean Strickland joined the staff a couple of years later. This season Zach Grage joined the team as their new pitching coach. All brought a blend of experience and knowledge to the bench that helped the Wildcats immensely this season.Richmond Hill hit a four game low spot in the middle of their season but the team never seemed to suffer a lack of confidence and no one hit the panic button. They stuck with their practice routine, the line up stayed pretty much the same. The result was a 12-2 finish including a big win at South Effingham and a trip to the state tournament.
The 2007 varsity award winners were:
Jeremy Goolsby "Best offensive Player." Goolsby, a junior, started the season a little slow at the plate but finished strong with a high batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage and RBI total.
Jeff Yeager "Best Defensive Player." A junior outfielder, Yeager could always be counted on going full tilt including a monster crash in to the fence chasing a ball down against Burke County. Jeff didn’t make the catch but earned a lot of respect from his team mates and fans.
Jake Dudley "Will-To-Win Athlete." A senior whose role as a bench player didn’t limit him from always seeming to score a big run or take an extra base with his head first slide.
Steven Boaen "Rookie of the Year." As a freshman he couldn’t have a more pressure packed position to play than at short stop, and still made some spectacular plays there, and he will be a huge future asset to the team.
Scott Strickland "Coaches Award." The senior pitcher always seemed to be on the mound against the toughest opponents and still managed a 4-2 regular season record with one save and led the staff in strike outs.
Josh Futch "Highest Grade Point Average." The senior has won this award each year he has been on the team and with the kind of season he had was probably in contention for a couple more.
Aaron Pittsley "Production Hitter Award." This senior left handed first baseman was an opponents nightmare to pitch to. He hit the ball hard to all fields and scored the highest on Curry’s production hitting stats.
Matt Schlag "Most Valuable Player." This senior had not only a great season pitching(5-1) and hitting third in the order for good power numbers, but he was also a vacuum at his regular position on third base, sometimes picking up errors trying to make plays that most third baseman would never get to.
These were the players that the team and coaches voted on and are truly deserving. But being a part of a good team, and knowing each member contributed in their own way to make them successful was the real reward.