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GWINNETT GRADS: Mill Creek grad Curry overcomes Tommy John surgery, stars for GPC

Before a fall baseball game in late October 2012, Jerad Curry joined his Georgia Perimeter College pitchers for long toss.

The idea of warming up in the cold weather quickly turned into a nightmare for Curry, Mill Creek grad and GPC catcher who felt something pop in his arm on one throw.

“It was like a sharp pain shot up my forearm to my pinky (finger),” Curry said. “I definitely knew something was wrong.”

Curry played through the pain that evening, but the injury didn’t improve in the coming weeks. The elbow damage was enough to warrant the dreaded Tommy John surgery in December 2012.

The long rehabilitation wasn’t easy, but he got regular advice from Georgia Tech pitcher Matthew Grimes, his former Mill Creek teammate. Grimes also had Tommy John surgery just before Curry, so he could inform him about the next phase before it happened.

“He gave me a lot of advice on how it would feel,” Curry said of Grimes. “That helped. … The rehab was all the same as a pitcher, it took about a year for the physical therapy and getting the strength back. It was hard to star throwing at just 20 feet and then progressing from there.”

Curry made a big step back last summer when he played for the Atlanta Crackers. He still remembers his first real game with the Crackers after the long Tommy John absence.

“I felt like I was that little kid playing the game I loved again,” Curry said. “I felt like I’d been watching everybody else forever.”

The one-year mark from surgery passed back in December and Curry now feels great.

He’s hitting .356 in his first season with GPC — he played his freshman year at Chipola College (Fla.) and sat out 2013 at GPC with the injury — with two home runs, 43 RBIs, 15 doubles and a .434 on-base percentage. He had a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored in a big win over Darton earlier this week.

GPC entered the weekend with a 39-10 record (28-3 in conference) and a No. 6 national ranking by the National Junior College Athletic Association.

“First of all, we want to win the conference, but our main goal is to win the national championship,” said Curry, who will play next season at Armstrong Atlantic. “We’re going to take it one step at a time, conference, then region, then the national championship.”

BASEBALL

Gouge, Vollenweider named to Gulf South team

Brookwood grad Michael Gouge and Shiloh grad Matt Vollenweider were named to the All-Gulf South Conference second team Monday.

Gouge, a sophomore at Valdosta State, hit .340 with 13 RBIs this season and ranked among the conference leaders with a .451 on-base percentage.

Vollenweider, a senior at West Florida, had a 2.35 ERA this season as a relief pitcher.

Collins Hill’s Topoleski gets SAC honors

Tusculum College (Tenn.) freshman John Topoleski, a Collins Hill grad, recently picked up a pair of South Atlantic Conference honors.

Topoleski was an honorable mention selection to the All-SAC Team and he also was the third baseman on the SAC Gold Glove Team for his defense.

Topoleski hit .350, the highest average for a SAC freshman, this season with eight doubles, a home run and 20 RBIs. He had a .897 fielding percentage in 87 chances at third base.

Benson earns third Peach Belt honor

Grayson grad Brandon Benson was named the Peach Belt Conference freshman of the week for the third time this season on Monday.

The Georgia College and State University standout went 5-for-12 with a home run, three RBIs and five runs scored last week.

McGowan homer lifts Kennesaw State

Collins Hill grad Chris McGowan provided game-winning heroics last Sunday as Kennesaw State extended its winning streak to 11 games with a 9-8 win over East Tennessee State.

McGowan hit a two-run homer to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was his third hit of the game and third home run of the season.

SOCCER

North’s Au signs with Swedish team

Plenty has been going on lately in Danielle Au’s life.

The former North Gwinnett star has signed with Krokom/Davrsatts IF, a Swedish professional team that competes in Division One Norra Svealand, the third tier of the county’s professional season. The club plays a 22-game schedule that lasts until Oct. 4.

She completed her college career last fall with South Carolina, finishing fourth on the school’s career rankings in goals (23) and points (59).

Au also was named as one of two Southeastern Conference soccer finalists for the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship, which is given each year to the league’s top overall male and female scholar-athlete. The award’s winner receives a $15,000 post-graduate scholarship, while the other finalists get $7,500 each.

Au graduated this past December with a 3.9 GPA, majoring in international business, entrepreneurship and economics. She also minored in Chinese and statistics.

SOFTBALL

Williams stars for Agnes Scott’s first tourney team

Archer grad Alliyah Williams had a huge championship game last Sunday, powering Agnes Scott to its first Great South Athletic Conference title and its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Williams, the conference freshman of the year, was named tournament MVP after hitting for the cycle in the championship game. She tripled in the first inning, homered in the second, singled in the fourth and doubled in the fifth as part of a five-RBI game as Agnes Scott defeated Finlandia 14-9.

Williams has a team-high .432 batting average this season with four home runs, 30 RBIs and 15 doubles.

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.