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GWINNETT GRADS: Vandy's Garvin returns from fracture in top form

A great opportunity awaited Grayson Garvin last summer as he joined some of the nation's top college baseball players in their annual migration to the Northeast for the Cape Cod League.

Unfortunately, the Wesleyan grad left a little disappointed.

He made just eight appearances in relief for Falmouth and logged just 161/3 innings. His 3.86 ERA wasn't bad, but the left-hander was far from 100 percent and that kept him on the bench much of the summer.

"I'd throw an inning and be done for a week," said Garvin, a sophomore at Vanderbilt.

MRI scans determined his elbow pain wasn't the dreaded Tommy John injury, so he tried to pitch through the pain in fall ball but nothing improved. An X-ray was finally done this past December and found a stress fracture was causing the problems.

Garvin then took the necessary step to recover -- stop pitching until it healed -- and missed the first part of Vanderbilt's season.

The 6-foot-5, 217-pounder returned recently feeling refreshed and healthy. He's made five appearances (four in relief) and has allowed just one unearned run, sporting a 0.00 ERA.

"It's been a little bit different, my body's taken a little bit longer to respond to get back where I want to be ... but I'm feeling comfortable right now," Garvin said. "It feels good to come off the mound and not feel like I'll be out awhile after I pitch."

A big test came Tuesday night, Garvin's first start since his return. He pitched five scoreless innings, gave up four hits and had four strikeouts with no walks.

In 102/3 innings this season, he has 13 strikeouts and just one walk. He's pitching in the 88 to 92 mph range and occasionally hits up to 94.

"I feel good right now," Garvin said. "I've been very pleased with how my body felt after (Tuesday's start). That's the most pitches I've thrown in a year, so I'm feeling great."

Garvin's return is a nice boost for the Commodores (32-12, 9-9 SEC) entering the stretch run of league play. He isn't sure of his role, but could be used as a reliever or a starter.

But pitching hasn't been Vandy's problem this season.

"If we bring things all together, we could be really, really special," said Garvin, who made nine appearances as a college freshman with 18 strikeouts in 122/3 innings. "We're going to pitch. We're going to play good defense. If we can hit, we'll be really dangerous. We can play with anybody."

After the college season, Garvin is headed back to the Cape Cod League, where he hopes to pitch more frequently with his new team, the Bourne Braves. It's an opportunity he plans to take full advantage of this summer, his final Cape Cod play before he becomes draft eligible following his junior season at Vandy.

BASEBALL

Cain named Gulf South first team

Valdosta State senior Clayton Cain was named this week as a first-team All-Gulf South Conference selection at designated hitter.

The Brookwood grad, a unanimous selection, is hitting .409 with 16 home runs, 60 RBIs, 53 runs, a .733 slugging percentage and a .505 on-base percentage.

Hit-and-run

Brookwood product Ross Heffley hit his second home run of the game, a three-run shot to tie the game in the ninth, last Sunday as Western Carolina rallied past Georgia Southern 14-11. The sophomore was 3-for-4 with six RBIs and had his second multi-home run game in as many weeks. ... Shiloh grad Jordan Oates completed his four-year career at Anderson University (S.C.), finishing with a 4-2 record as a relief pitcher. He graduates in May with a kinesiology degree and plans to start physical therapy school later this year.

Gwinnett grads Jake Adcock (Mill Creek), Kevin Bowman (Peachtree Ridge), J.J. Martone (Dacula), Jacob Mauldin (Duluth) and Taylor Smith (Dacula) led LaGrange College to Great South Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championships this season. ... Providence Christian's Casey Gray led Berry College starting pitchers with a 5-3 record and pitched a team-high 52 innings. His ERA was 3.46 and he held opponents to a .249 batting average. Berry's Cory Pitts, a Berkmar grad, hit .389 with a homer, 19 RBIs, 24 stolen bases and 35 runs scored as a junior. ... Fellow Berkmar grad Kyle Cyprysiak, a junior first baseman at Maryville College (Tenn.), started all 39 games this season and hit .310 with four home runs and 33 RBIs.

North Gwinnett grad J.R. Van Wie, a freshman at Andrew College, was awarded the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association's Gold Glove Award for second baseman when the all-region honors were announced this week.

GOLF

UGA's Burger named All-SEC

Georgia freshman Emilie Burger, a Mill Creek grad, was named All-SEC second team in women's golf this week. She also earned all-freshman recognition.

Burger has a 73.50 stroke average with 11 par-or-better rounds, five top-10 finishes and seven top-20 finishes. She won the Auburn Invitational and led the Bulldogs in two other tournaments.

"Emilie was a clear second in terms of freshman of the year honors," Georgia head coach Kelley Hester said. "That's nothing to hang your head about. She's had a very strong freshman campaign to start what should be a great career here at Georgia. She far exceeded the expectations I had for her as a freshman."

SWIMMING

Holcombe sets Air Force record

Brookwood grad Haley Holcombe had an impressive showing at the Mountain West Conference Championships, breaking the Air Force record in the 200 butterfly.

The freshman won the 200 fly consolation finals with an academy record time of 2 minutes, 2.85 seconds. She also won the 100 fly consolation finals with a time of 55.81, third-best in Air Force history.

Her 200 individual medley of 2:08.57 was the ninth-fastest in school history.

FOOTBALL

Greenstone named captain at Vandy

Collins Hill's T.J. Greenstone has been voted by his teammates as one of the Vanderbilt football team's captains for the upcoming season.

A junior defensive lineman, he had 38 tackles and two sacks as a sophomore and also made the SEC Academic Honor Roll for the second straight year.

TRACK AND FIELD

Brusich second at Big South meet

Parkview product Evan Brusich placed second at the Big South Conference Championships in the decathlon, earning all-conference honors.

The junior scored 6,357 points behind a Day 2 performance that moved him up the standings from fifth place.

He was second in the pole vault (12 feet, 6 inches), the 110 hurdles (personal-best 15.22) and the 1,500 (4:31.43). He also set new bests in the shot put (35-3) and javelin (128-8).

SOFTBALL

Munson tops SSAC honors

Collins Hill grad Libby Munson, a junior at Shorter, was named this week to the All-Southern States Athletic Conference first team and also was selected as SSAC pitcher of the week.

Munson had three wins the previous week in 20 innings, improving her record to 22-3 on the season.

North Gwinnett grad Samantha Rao, who plays for Emmanuel, was an all-freshman selection.

Hit-and-run

Former Mill Creek standouts Katy Hackett and Morgan Bullock are having strong seasons at Charlotte and Florida State, respectively. Hackett is 16-4 with a 2.56 ERA and 122 strikeouts for Charlotte (35-13), while Bullock is hitting .312 with 16 stolen bases for FSU (39-14). ... Buford grad Ashley Razey hit a game-ending, two-run home run last Sunday as Georgia beat South Carolina 10-2 via the run rule. She was 3-for-4 with a career-high six RBIs and the homer was her 11th of the season.

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 will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.