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GWINNETT GRADS: Neidigh goes on a tear for Anderson

Photo: Richard Shiro Brookwood grad Jessica Neidigh is the top hitter for the Anderson (S.C.) softball team.

Photo: Richard Shiro Brookwood grad Jessica Neidigh is the top hitter for the Anderson (S.C.) softball team.

By her high standards, Jessica Neidigh hit a bit of a slump this softball season.

The Brookwood grad's late March swoon was brief, however. She rebounded out of it with the hottest hitting stretch of her career at any level.

Neidigh went 6-for-9 during a doubleheader with North Greenville on March 25, then kept producing in the Trojans' ensuing games. Though they lost a doubleheader March 30 at Lincoln Memorial, the sophomore went a perfect 9-for-9 with two doubles and a triple.

During the stretch, which earned her South Atlantic Conference player of the week honors, Neidigh was 19-for-26 (a .730 batting average) with a home run, a triple, three doubles, nine runs and six RBIs.

"This is the first time I've ever had this kind of streak," Neidigh said. "I've been trying to put in extra work and get some extra hitting off the tee, so hopefully it's paying off."

Neidigh's hitting also is more versatile than it was at Brookwood, where she worked predominantly as a slapper to take advantage of her speed. She has added power to her arsenal, making her more dangerous at the plate since teams have to prepare for both.

She ranks in the top five in the conference in every offensive category.

"In high school, I wasn't a power hitter," Neidigh said. "Now I'm a power hitter and I can slap. I can do anything, so they don't know how to play me."

Neidigh has a .477 batting average with four home runs, 17 RBIs, 12 doubles, five triples, a .515 on-base percentage and a .702 slugging percentage. Her 72 hits and 52 runs rank high nationally as well, while her speed is still a factor --she is 16-for-16 on stolen bases.

With those numbers leading the way, Anderson is having a big season, too. The Trojans are 33-9 overall and 10-4 in the league.

Three other Gwinnett grads also are contributors along with Neidigh. Collins Hill's Bri Cason has a .327 batting average with 16 RBIs, Dacula's Charlotte Sieber has a .391 batting average with two homers and 12 RBIs and Brookwood grad Rachel Rhodes has nine RBIs.

"We want to win the regular season (conference title) for the first time, win the (conference) tournament and go to regionals," Neidigh said.

GOLF

Newsome wins tourney, gets Big East honor

Mill Creek grad Emerson Newsome, playing in just the ninth tournament of his freshman season at Cincinnati, won his first college title at the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship, hosted by Mississippi State in West Point, Miss.

Newsome took control with a 5-under-par 67 in the first round, then maintained it with rounds of 71 and 72. His 210 total was a shot ahead of three golfers, including Georgia State's Jonathan Grey.

The victory also earned him Big East Conference golfer of the week honors.

GYMNASTICS

Providence's Shealy reaches NCAA finals

Iowa State junior Michelle Shealy, a Providence Christian grad, advanced to the NCAA Championships in the all-around with an impressive showing last weekend at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional.

Shealy, who will make her second NCAA finals appearance beginning April 19 at Los Angeles' Pauley Pavilion, scored a season-best 39.050 in the all-around at the regional. She placed fifth in the all-around at that meet, but qualified because the top two all-around performers not on a qualifying meet make the NCAA finals.

Shealy scored 9.650 on vault, 9.850 on bars, 9.800 on beam and 9.750 on floor.

BASEBALL

Roach has eight-RBI day

Norcross grad Tyler Roach had a career-high eight RBIs last Friday, leading Southern Poly to a 16-3 win at Auburn-Montgomery.

The junior first baseman went 2-for-5 with a grand slam, a three-run home run and a sacrifice fly. On the season, he has a .321 batting average with four homers and 33 RBIs.

McLaughlin posts best outing

Georgia State's Aidan McLaughlin, a Peachtree Ridge grad, had the longest and best outing of his career last Saturday in the Panthers' 5-3 win over Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 junior earned his first college victory in the game, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings. He struck out a career-high nine batters and walked just two.

LACROSSE

Crawford sets career high

Peachtree Ridge grad Alex Crawford, a sophomore at Mount Olive College (N.C.), scored a career-high five goals last Saturday in a victory over Conference Carolinas foe Lees-McRae.

She also had team highs of three assists and six forced turnovers in the victory.

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.