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GWINNETT GRADS: Gwinnett seniors lead the way for Columbus State baseball

South Gwinnett grad Brett Teschner has put up big numbers the past two seasons for Columbus State after transferring from Lipscomb.

South Gwinnett grad Brett Teschner has put up big numbers the past two seasons for Columbus State after transferring from Lipscomb.

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Brookwood grad Ryan Lewis is one of five seniors from Gwinnett County who make up the backbone of the Columbus State baseball team.

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Providence Christian grad J.D. Pullen has provided a spark for Columbus State this season after he began his career at Chattanooga State Community College. Pullen has a .387 batting average with 19 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.

Columbus State's baseball program has traditionally leaned heavily on Gwinnett players, and this year's version is no different.

While there are underclassmen from the county on the roster, the Cougars have five Gwinnett seniors who are important contributors as the team pushes toward the finish of the regular season.

"Our guys from Gwinnett County have been the backbone of this team in 2013," said Columbus State head coach Greg Appleton, whose assistants include South Gwinnett grad Patrick Collins. "They have put up great numbers and have been outstanding leaders as well."

Of those five, Brookwood grad Ryan Lewis has been a fixture for the longest time.

The outfielder, who has already graduated, made his Columbus State debut in 2009 and had two more standout seasons before a back injury ended his 2012 season after just three games. He took a medical redshirt last season, but has returned better than ever.

Lewis takes a .383 batting average with six home runs, 35 RBIs and 22 stolen bases into this weekend's series with North Georgia.

"Ryan has had an another all-conference year for us," Appleton said. "He bounced back from an injury last season and posted remarkable numbers from the leadoff spot for us. He leads the team by example and is ready to go every game."

Lewis is one-third of a Gwinnett group that has powered the offense for Columbus State, which is 25-19 overall and 17-9 in the Peach Belt Conference.

South Gwinnett's Brett Teschner has put up big numbers the past two seasons for the Cougars after transferring from Lipscomb. He has a .333 batting average with six home runs, 49 RBIs and 17 doubles.

"Brett has put together a very good year for us," Appleton said. "He has hit for average and power and been a run producer for us the entire year. He has done an outstanding job for us in the cleanup spot in our batting order."

J.D. Pullen also has provided a spark.

The Providence Christian product, who began his career at Chattanooga State Community College, has a .387 batting average with 19 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.

"J.D. has had great year for us," Appleton said. "He has been a solid hitter, a threat on the bases and a great center fielder. He has put together an all-conference season."

With the exception of Lewis, South Gwinnett's Aaron Jividen has one of the longest tenures in the program. The senior outfielder, hitting .269, has played all four seasons at Columbus State.

The other two Gwinnett grads on the roster -- both right-handed pitchers -- on the roster also came via transfers.

Parkview's Bronson Gagner has a 2-1 record in nine relief appearances and Grayson's Stuart Shaw has a 4.76 ERA in seven relief appearances. Gagner played previously at Mercer and Shaw was at Lawson State Community College.

"Stuart and Bronson have given us some valuable innings out of the bullpen and Aaron has been a great utility man for us this season," Appleton said. "All three have been senior leaders that helped us through some rough spots and guided this team."

BASEBALL

Squeglia climbs GSU career list

Collins Hill's Nick Squeglia moved into seventh place in Georgia State history for career wins with his 15th, which came this week against Savannah State.

The fifth-year senior pitched six shutout innings and allowed just five hits against Savannah State. He struck out six and improved his season record to 4-1.

"When Nick throws the ball in the strike zone, he is tough to deal with," GSU head coach Greg Frady said. "He gave us six scoreless innings. We were so depleted in the bullpen after the weekend, and Nick knew we needed him to pitch us deep into the ball game and give us a chance to win, and he certainly did that."

SOFTBALL

GAC's Lawrence gets Big Ten honor

Michigan outfielder Sierra Lawrence, a Greater Atlanta Christian grad, was named the Big Ten freshman of the week on Monday.

Lawrence hit .462 last week with eight RBIs and five runs as the Wolverines went 4-0 in conference play. The week was highlighted by her first career grand slam against Iowa, as well as a career-best, three-hit day vs. Indiana.

She is hitting .374 with six home runs and 34 RBIs this season.

Dickie named all-conference

Buford grad Melissa Dickie, a sophomore at North Georgia, made the All-Peach Belt Conference second team.

Dickie made 18 pitching appearances during the regular season, posting an 11-5 record with a 2.21 ERA in 104 innings.

TRACK AND FIELD

McGinty gets prestigious UGA award

Collins Hill grad Allyson McGinty received the prestigious Marilyn Vincent Scholar-Athlete Award on Monday night during the University of Georgia Athletics Awards Banquet.

The award is given to the UGA senior female athlete with the highest GPA. McGinty is a runner in the Bulldogs' track and cross country programs.

Smith posts win at Drake Relays

Kisean Smith's first college victory was a memorable one.

The Brookwood grad and Georgia freshman placed first in the 800-meter run Thursday at the 104th running of the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa. His winning time was 1 minute, 51.90 seconds.

"Kisean did a great job of winning his race and I think he could have gone faster had he had someone pushing him," UGA distance coach Patrick Cunniff said.

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.