Needing a change, Josh Lett turned to some old ties.
The Duluth grad, looking to transfer from North Carolina-Asheville, first talked to baseball instructor Howie McCann, the father of the Atlanta Braves' Brian McCann, (also a Duluth grad). The elder McCann mentioned Lett to then-Braves scout Al Goetz, who made a call to a friend. That friend was Louisiana-Monroe head coach Jeff Schexnaider.
From there the process unfolded last summer and Lett found himself in Louisiana for his senior season.
"It's working out great here," said Lett, now the Warhawks' top starting pitcher. "I love it here. The coaches are awesome. The team's awesome. We're playing great baseball right now. Asheville's a great program. I love the coaches and everything...But for me, I just needed a bit of a boost. A change of scenery."
Lett wasn't pleased with his junior season, which he entered with promise after two effective seasons at Georgia Perimeter College. He was 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA and three saves as a GPC freshman splitting time between the bullpen and starting. He was even better as a sophomore starter (2.87 ERA, nine complete games, 87 strikeouts in 95 innings). However, last year was a struggle. He had a few bright spots, but not many in going 0-5 with a 7.86 ERA while battling tendinitis.
The problems seem to be left in Asheville though.
Lett has emerged as Louisiana-Monroe's all-important Sunday starter for Sun Belt Conference games, going 4-0 with a 3.62 ERA in conference games thus far. The left-hander is 5-1 overall with a 3.32 ERA and 23 strikeouts to just 12 walks in 431â "3 innings. He ranks first on the team in several categories, including ERA and wins. Lett credits his turnaround to a number of factors, including better physical health and shape, after losing some extra weight over the summer. But he also thought he overthrew too much last season, and said he's done a better job this spring of locating his pitches and pitching to his defense.
He hopes this year will boost his stock with pro scouts for the upcoming Major League Baseball Amateur Player Draft. Although the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder isn't overpowering (he throws in the 86- to 89-mph range), he throws strikes and uses four pitches - fastball, curveball, changeup and cut fastball.
"I really haven't talked to a lot of people (about the draft), but I feel like my chances (of getting picked up by a major league team) are good if I stay consistent," Lett said. "I feel like there's a good need out there for a left-handed pitcher who throws strikes."
Gwinnett grads power LaGrange
Gwinnett grads Cory Matticola and Blake Allen are two of the top offensive forces for the 18-13 LaGrange College baseball team.
Matticola, a Central Gwinnett grad and a senior, is hitting .398 with 46 RBIs (tied for first on the team) and a .522 slugging percentage. Allen, a Grayson grad and a sophomore, is batting .354 with 21 RBIs. Gwinnett products Kegan Bailey (Grayson), Chase Sturm (Central), David Tillis (Central) and J.J. Martone (Dacula) have each seen duty as pitchers this season for LaGrange. Tillis leads that group with a 3.77 ERA in eight appearances.
Childers hitting well at West Georgia
West Georgia senior Nolan Childers, a Parkview grad, has helped the Wolves to a 27-12 record with his hitting prowess.
Childers is hitting .386 (second on the team) with six homers, 30 RBIs and a .614 slugging percentage. He also is 9-for-9 on stolen bases.
Parkview grad makes Piedmont Hall of Fame
Parkview grad Sara Borchers Berube, now a Loganville resident, was inducted last weekend into the Piedmont College Athletic Letter Club Hall of Fame.
Berube, who played under her maiden name of Borchers, was a two-time Piedmont soccer MVP in 2000 and 2001, earning honorable mention All-American honors the latter season, when she also was the Great South Athletic Conference Player of the Year. She finished her Piedmont career with 70 goals and 49 assists.
TRACK AND FIELD
Champion's college career over
Collins Hill grad Courtney Champion's outstanding college sprinting career is over.
Tennessee sent out a release on Thursday night that Champion will not compete with the Volunteers for the outdoor track and field season. Her final college races were at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, where she placed eighth in both the 60-meter run (7.36 seconds) and the 200 (23.36).
"Courtney will not be running for us during the outdoor season," Tennessee head coach J.J. Clark said in the release. "She's going to remain at Tennessee, complete her degree and pursue other endeavors."
Side, Iduate come up big
South Gwinnett grad Jenny Side broke a record and Norcross grad Nina Iduate had a big doubleheader on Wednesday as the Georgia Southern fastpitch softball team swept Florida A&M 9-1 and 11-1.
Side hit her 10th home run of the season against the Rattlers, tying the school's single-season record. She was 3-for-3 with two runs and five RBIs in Game 1. Iduate was 5-for-5 in the doubleheader and reached base six times. She has a five-game hitting streak and has hit .667 during that span.
Collins Hill bats lead West Georgia
Kara Pollock and Adrienne Clay, both Collins Hill grads, are among the top hitters for West Georgia's fastpitch softball team. Pollock, a freshman, is second on the team with a .364 batting average. She also has team bests of nine home runs, 36 RBIs and a .612 slugging percentage.
Clay is hitting .333 with six homers and 21 RBIs. The senior is slugging .544.
Ullrich gets career high
Furman freshman Bethany Ullrich struck out a career-high 11 batters last week as the Paladins defeated Presbyterian 7-3. The Mill Creek grad allowed just two earned runs in the complete-game victory.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 770-339-8081.