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GWINNETT GRADS: Gwinnett softball stars shine as college freshmen

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The core group that fueled Buford's fastpitch softball state championships from 2007-10 has adjusted to the college game pretty well.

Those former Wolves -- Karly Fullem, Chelsie Thomas, Melissa Dickie and Whitney Wolfe -- are playing key roles already for their college teams as true freshmen. Two of them, Fullem and Thomas, are excelling in the ACC for Georgia Tech.

Fullem has made 22 starts for the Yellow Jackets and has made five pitching appearances, going 1-1 with two starts. She's been more important as a hitter with a home run and 13 RBIs.

Thomas, a fixture in the lineup for Tech, has started all 39 games. She's hitting .253 and is 14 of 15 on stolen bases.

Dickie has a 10-0 pitching record for a powerful team at North Georgia (31-7), which features ace Jessica Coan, formerly of Greater Atlanta Christian. She has a 1.73 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 73 innings.

Wolfe, also a 2011 Buford grad, has made eight starts for Piedmont College.

Here's a look at some other Gwinnett grads starring as true freshmen in college softball:

--Anderson University(S.C.) foursome

Four Gwinnett freshmen are having big seasons for Anderson (31-7), led by Brookwood's Jessica Neidigh.

Neidigh is hitting a team-high .455 with three home runs, 24 RBIs and 12 doubles. She's also a perfect 16-for-16 on stolen bases.

Fellow Brookwood grad Rachel Rhodes has a .289 batting average with a homer and 15 RBIs, while teammates and Collins Hill grads Brianna Cason and Shelley Sweatt also are faring well for Anderson. Cason is hitting .291 with a homer and 15 RBIs and Sweatt is hitting .231 with a homer and seven RBIs.

--Amber Hulsey

The Collins Hill grad is one of the main cogs in the Northwest Florida State lineup, hitting .302 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs.

--Katie Block

Block, a Parkview grad who is playing with Dickie at North Georgia, is hitting .302 with four homers and 13 RBIs.

--Kylie Kleinschmidt

The Providence Christian product has a 3-4 record in 14 appearances (eight starts) for Georgia Tech.

--Monet Daly

Daly, a Shiloh grad, has a team-high .436 batting average for Winston-Salem State (N.C.). She also is 10-for-10 on stolen bases.

--Amber Stillwell

Also a Shiloh product, Stillwell is hitting .344 with eight RBIs for Emmanuel College.

SOFTBALL

Hadley rules in Gulf South again

Valdosta State senior Alanna Hadley, a Dacula grad, continues to rack up the honors.

The right-hander was named the Gulf South Conference pitcher of the week Tuesday, earning the honor for the third straight week and fourth time this season.

Hadley, who played previously at Georgia, had four wins the previous week and allowed just one earned run in 23 innings.

BASEBALL

Heddinger busy at Tech

Buford's Josh Heddinger, a true freshman, has a team-high 13 appearances (two starts) for Georgia Tech's baseball team.

The 6-foot-4, 216-pounder has 22 strikeouts in 20 innings.

Freshmen chipping in for North Georgia

While North Georgia has talented veteran players from Gwinnett like Jordan Erisman and Kenny Bellavance, it also relies on some young talent from the county.

Nine freshmen from Gwinnett are on the roster, led by Brookwood's Jacob Beauchamp. The 6-foot-6 hurler is 3-1 with a save in 11 appearances. He has a 2.68 ERA.

Teammate Phillip Taylor of Parkview has a save and a 3.57 ERA in 15 relief appearances. Fellow Parkview grad Travis Naraine has a .266 batting average with six RBIs.

Former Hawks contributing

Mill Creek grads Jerad Curry and Devin Bonin, both freshmen, are faring well in college.

Curry is a key player for Chipola College, a junior college in Marianna, Fla. He is hitting .282 with three home runs and 25 RBIs.

Bonin is .276 with 12 RBIs for Gordon College.

Hit-and-run

Brookwood grad Zach Rinehart, a freshman at Central Alabama Community College, is hitting .333 with 23 RBIs. ... Belmont catcher Jamie Ritchie, a freshman from Buford, has made 20 starts and 27 appearances this season. He has nine RBIs.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via email to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com.