As the final installment to the sports year in review recently concluded in the Bryan County News, it brought to mind what an eventful year 2007 was for Bryan County sports. Here is a list of the top ten sports stories of the year, as compiled by the Bryan County News sports staff.
- Ashley Barfield beats out every softball player in the Coastal Empire to take home the Hinesville Umpires Association’s Player of the Year award.
- After five years of defeat, the Wildcat baseball team finally gets a win over bitter rival South Effingham.
- The Bryan County Middle School softball team records a 10-1 record and defeat Glennville Middle School in the finals to become region champs.
- Bryan County High School’s 1983, 1986 and 2001 state championship softball teams were honored with the placement of signs at the Pembroke City limits on Hwy. 280.
- NFL Tennessee Titan Jacob Bell lends a hand to his nephew’s team – the Richmond Hill Raiders travel soccer team. A football signed by the team garners nearly $2,000 in raffle tickets to keep the team going.
- Double Gobble, the pro fishing team from Richmond Hill, rack up top five victories in the FLW circuit throughout the year and finished in the national top 20. Their adventures were chronicled on the FSN network.
- The Wildcat summer baseball team dominates the summer circuit and place second in the GRPA state tournament.
- This past summer, Wildcat Melanie Goolsby played a key role as she racked up two travel softball World Series championship victories and placed within the top five of the other two competitions.
- Richmond Hill sports legend Jim Bayens was honored prior to the first RHHS baseball game of the season. The team unveiled a memorial sign that now has a permanent home in Wildcat Field. His son, and former RHHS head coach, Mickey Bayens threw out the first pitch for that game.
10. Two BCHS legends are honored at the start of baseball season.
Former baseball and softball coaching legend Albert Lodge and former baseball player Russell Williams are heralded during February’s alumni game and Williams’ No. 9 jersey is retired. Lodge was inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame on Jan. 20. He won 13 region titles and a state championship at Bryan County and has a career coaching record of 422-193. Williams played for Lodge and went 11-2 as a senior, beating Statesboro’s Joey Hamilton 1-0 in a pitchers’ duel. Hamilton went on to play for Georgia Southern, became a No. 1 draft pick of the San Diego Padres and enjoyed a long career in the major leagues. Williams was drafted by Cincinnati. After the alumni game, Williams throws out the first pitch in the season-opening scrimmage for BCHS baseball.
9. The 2008-2010 Region realignment rosters are announced.
And this means big changes for both RHHS and BCHS come next year. As announced in December by the GHSA, Region 3-AAA will include Richmond Hill, Baldwin, Burke County, Liberty County, Thomson, Washington County and West Laurens – and a whole lot more travel. Region 3-A, to be split, will include Bryan County, Savannah Christian, Calvary Day, Claxton, Portal, Savannah Country Day, ECI, Jenkins County, Metter, Montgomery County, Treutlen, Wheeler County, Johnson County and Telfair County.
8. Wildcat football begins radio broadcasts.
A deal is sealed between the RHHS football booster club and FM classic rock radio station 104.7 The Hawk to begin broadcasting games live on the radio. First Baptist Pastor Keith Joseph and Jonathan Goodman did the play-by-play as the Wildcat games could be heard from Darien to Vidalia. It has already been announced that the games will again be broadcasted next season.
7. RHMS wins the 2007 football championship.
In October, the Middle Cats beat the undefeated South Effingham Mustangs 35-28 in the final round of the region tournament. They overcome a 22-7 deficit at halftime to come back strong and win the region title. It was their second consecutive trip to the title game and the first championship for the middle school in fifteen years.
6. Ashley Barfield throws a no-hitter against Claxton.
During a region game in August, Barfield struck out seven Claxton batters allowing no walks and only one runner to reach the bases after being hit by a pitch to lead the Lady Redskins to an 8-0 victory. She almost did it again one week later in a game against ECI.
5. Ivey Mutcherson breaks the school record for yardage.
On Sept. 7, BCHS football lost to Long County in a heartbreaking 41-40 game, but Mutcherson had a career game with 327 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns. In the games to come, Mutcherson continued to rack up an impressive amount of yardage as the Skins made their way to state.
4. Jena Reddick pitches a perfect game against Burke County.A first for RHHS. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this is the fact that Reddick, a Wildcat freshman, was thrust in the pitcher position, as a relief, shortly before this game. Oh, and she hit a homerun that very same game. She followed the performance up with a string of superlative performances including a shutout of Liberty County that virtually wrapped up second place in the sub-region for the Lady Cats.
3. Krysta Rohde wins national sailing title.
Rohde graduated last year from RHHS and achieved this victory as a freshman at the Coast Guard Academy at November’s championship regatta in Seattle. She is the first female from the academy to win a national title and the first academy member period since 1968 to do so. Rohde’s victory thrust Richmond Hill into the national spotlight with mentions of her home town splashed into numerous media outlets along with the story of her title reign – including an article in Sports Illustrated.
2. College recruiters scoop up numerous county athletes.
A large number of local students signed letters of intent in 2007 for athletic scholarships to continue playing sports. Among them are: Wesley Wilkes to play baseball at AASU, Mackenzie Qua to play soccer at Brenau, Sara Baker to swim at Milligan, Jordan East to swim at Wingate, Ryan Gregory to wrestle at Belmont Abbey, Laura Nunnery to play soccer at North Georgia, Mitch Doud to play soccer at Georgia Southwestern, Heather Vaccaro to play soccer at Milligan, Matt Schlag to play baseball at North Georgia, Aaron Pittsley to play baseball at Brewton Parker, Angela Miller to play basketball at AASU and Cameron Corbin to play baseball at Reinhardt.
1. Many county sports teams advance to the state playoffs.
The two teams that made it the furthest were BCHS softball and RHHS boys tennis – each advancing to the Elite Eight. Also making state were the following RHHS teams: baseball, boys and girls soccer, girls basketball, cheerleading, girls cross country and girls tennis. The following BCHS teams advanced to the state playoffs in 2007: football, baseball, boys and girls tennis, and individual athletes for track and field. Among the highlights from this include: RHHS baseball, BCHS football, RHHS girls soccer and BCHS softball had the most successful seasons ever in 2007; Redskin DJ McElroy finished high in multiple state track events; RHHS girls basketball had a Cinderella story of maintaining a losing streak in the first half of their season until gradually improving and making it to state by defeating Butler by one point in the region tournament.