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GWINNETT GRADS: Coan has one of best games in D-II history

The Lenoir-Rhyne batters kept flailing away and Jessica Coan kept doing her job. By the time last weekend’s game had finished, the impressiveness of her day’s work never crossed the North Georgia pitcher’s mind.

The Greater Atlanta Christian grad struck out 19 batters — out of 21 possible outs in the seven-inning game — and befuddled the 15th-ranked team in the country. It was the second-highest strikeout total ever in a seven-inning NCAA Division II game and just one away from the record of 20 set back in 1987.

Coan, a junior, struck out the game’s first 10 batters before allowing a single through the left side of the infield. She had 17 strikeouts through six innings and had a chance to tie the record by fanning the side in the seventh, but she struck out just two of three batters.

“I didn’t realize it was that many,” Coan said earlier this week. “I didn’t realize it until my dad told me after the game. I was just focusing on each pitch and each batter. I was trying to win each pitch.”

Coan has done a lot of winning this season, her first at North Georgia after playing her first two seasons at Georgia Tech. The right-hander is 8-1 with a 0.26 ERA and 98 strikeouts in only 54 innings, heading up a three-pitcher deep rotation that also includes sophomore Krysten Connelly of Peachtree Ridge (4-0, 0.42 ERA).

North Georgia took a 20-2 record into a Friday doubleheader with Tusculum with a big boost from Coan and her transfer from Tech.

“I was just looking for somewhere that was the right fit for me,” she said of changing colleges. “I wanted to do elementary education, so a place that had a good education program and also a place where I could make an impact on the softball field. ... It was definitely a hard decision to leave (Tech). My two years there were great and the friends I made were great. I just wanted the right fit for me.”


Bear gets first ACC award

Grayson grad Shannon Bear was named the ACC player of the week for the first time in her career on Tuesday after hitting .429 the previous week.

The junior had a home run, three doubles and five RBIs in a win over Evansville. She finished the week with nine RBIs, tallying at least one in each of Tech’s five games.

Teammate Alysha Rudnik of Buford hit two home runs in the doubleheader sweep of Evansville and Jacksonville State.

Bear had another big game on Tuesday night, tallying a homer and a triple in the Jackets’ 2-0 win over Penn State.


Wiedeman gets conference honor

GAC grad Reece Wiedeman, a senior at Georgia College and State University, was named a second-team All-Peach Belt Conference Selection this week.

The 6-foot-8 senior averaged 12 points and 5.4 rebounds as a senior, finishing off a solid career that started when he walked on as a freshman and was redshirted. His season included a 25-point, eight-rebound game in a win over nationally ranked Augusta State.

Wiedeman named to all-tourney team

College of Charleston freshman Trent Wiedeman, a GAC grad, was named to the second team All-Southern Conference Tournament Team this week.

The 6-8 forward averaged a double-double in three tourney games with 20 points and 12 rebounds vs. Elon, 10 points and 12 rebounds vs. Furman and six points and seven rebounds vs. Wofford.


Hughes fifth in SEC with Bama record

Alabama senior Michael Hughes made his last SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships memorable, placing fifth in the heptathlon with a school-record score of 5,339 points.

Hughes, a former pole vaulter at Greater Atlanta Christian, had a personal-best vault in the competition of 16 feet, 83⁄4 inches. His other efforts were 21-71⁄4 in the long jump, 44-23⁄4 in the shot put, 5-8 in the high jump, 8.75 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles and 7.13 seconds in the 60-meter dash.


Doran’s title leads Gwinnett showing at nationals

A handful of Gwinnett athletes fared well at last weekend’s National Junior College Athletic Association National Championships, including Mill Creek grad Stephanie Doran’s first-place finish in the 100 backstroke in 56.85 seconds.

Doran also was second in the 100 back, third in the 200 free and swam on three first-place relay teams for Indian River State College (Fla.), which won the national title in both the men’s and women’s divisions.

The Indian River men were aided in the national title chase by Collins Hill grad Joe Strauss, who was second in the 100 breast, third in the 400 individual medley and fifth in the 200 IM. Teammates Caleb Weir of Providence Christian (third in 100 back, fourth in 200 back, eighth in 100 freestyle) and Robbie Swan of Brookwood (fourth in 100 free, eighth in 50 free and 200 free and first in two relays) also had big meets.

Mill Creek grads Kevin Doran and sisters Samantha and Sara Akoubian stood out for national runner-up Daytona State College (Fla.) teams.

Doran was third in the 200 IM, fifth in the 100 breast and on a runner-up relay. Samantha Akoubian was fifth in the 100 breast, sixth in the 200 breast and seventh in the 1,650 free. Sara Akoubian was third in the 400 IM and the 1,650 free and sixth in the 200 fly.

Holcombe named all-conference

Air Force sophomore Haley Holcombe, a Brookwood grad, was named to the All-Mountain West Conference swimming team in the 100 and 200 butterfly after her strong performance at the conference meet.

Holcombe broke her own school record in the 200 fly with a time of 2:02.36 and swam 55.31, the second-fastest time in Air Force history, in the 100 fly. She also was part of the academy’s school-record 200 and 400 medley relay teams.

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 or via fax to 770-339-8081.