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Greenhill wins Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year awards in Class 5A

For the second consecutive season, Russellville High School is home to the Class 5A Baseball Player of the Year.

After an outstanding senior season that saw him set school records for home runs and strikeouts while also becoming Franklin County’s all-time leader in wins, Cody Greenhill was named Player of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association on Saturday.

Greenhill, who led the Golden Tigers to a third straight state title in May, follows in the footsteps of RHS teammate and fellow Auburn signee Judd Ward, who won POY honors in Class 5A as a junior in 2016.

Greenhill was also chosen by the ASWA as the Class 5A Pitcher of the Year for 2017. The 6’4, 215-pound right-hander went 12-2 this season, finishing with more wins than earned runs allowed (10). He posted a 0.74 ERA and tied Brewer’s Dakota Bennett for the state lead with 144 strikeouts, breaking his own school mark from the previous season.

Greenhill went the distance in eight of his 18 starts, allowing just 57 hits and 17 walks in 95 innings pitched. He was virtually flawless in five postseason starts, going 5-0 with 44 strikeouts and zero earned runs allowed in 31 innings. He capped off that remarkable playoff run with a dominant outing against Faith Academy in Game 1 of the state finals, striking out 11 and allowing only two hits in a 9-1 win.

During the course of the 2017 season, Greenhill surpassed former Golden Tiger Jacey Wilson (29 wins from 2004-07), former Phil Campbell star Griffin Harris (34 wins from 2003-06) and former Russellville standout Cory Trapp (36 wins from 2005-08) to become the all-time wins leader in Franklin County baseball history. Greenhill finished his high school career with a record of 39-9, tying him with John Herring of American Christian Academy (1992-95) for fifth on the state’s career wins list.

Greenhill compiled a career ERA of 1.29 in 305.1 innings, striking out 375 batters and walking only 65. He threw 26 complete games, including eight shutouts and three no-hitters. In 15 career playoff starts, he went 13-1 with a 1.48 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 84.2 innings.

Russellville’s ace on the mound since his freshman year, Greenhill broke out at the plate with a monster senior season. He tied Decatur’s Tanner Burns for the state lead with 16 home runs, breaking the school record of 15 set by Seth Fergerson in 2007. Greenhill also led the state this year with 65 RBIs, batting .338 with 50 hits, 40 runs scored and more walks (21) than strikeouts (19). He drove in 16 runs in 12 playoff games.

Greenhill was also chosen as a member of the ASWA’s Super All-State team, comprised of the top 10 players in the state regardless of classification. He finished fourth in the voting for Mr. Baseball behind Burns, McGill-Toolen outfielder Bubba Thompson and Cullman left-hander Jacob Heatherly.

Ward, meanwhile, capped off his brilliant prep career with a third consecutive first-team All-State selection in Class 5A. The 6’0, 190-pound centerfielder tied Cullman’s Noah Fondren for second in the state with 59 hits, just one behind Tanner Allen of UMS-Wright.

Ward’s sweet left-handed stroke produced a .410 batting average in 2017 with four home runs, five triples, 10 doubles and 24 RBIs. He finished second in the state with 58 runs scored in 48 games, drawing 29 walks and striking out just 12 times in 190 plate appearances. Ward was an offensive force in the playoffs, batting .476 (20-for-42) with 10 extra-base this and 19 runs scored in 12 games. He finished the season with 15 multi-hit games and a .521 OBP.

Ward finished his three-year varsity career with 207 hits in 443 at bats, good for a .467 average that ranks 16th in state history (according to AHSAA.com). He also ranks in the state’s top 20 all-time with 43 career doubles and 189 runs scored.

Russellville, which finished 38-10 this past season and joined Hartselle (1990-92) and Spanish Fort (2010-12) as the only schools to win three consecutive Class 5A baseball championships, had two other players receive All-State honors from the ASWA. Senior pitcher Chad Wray was a second-team selection after finishing the 2017 season 8-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 16 starts.

Wray, a 6’4, 195-pound right-hander and a South Alabama signee, struck out a career-high 96 batters in 81 innings while allowing 77 hits. He threw four complete games and two shutouts, including a six-hit, eight-strikeout masterpiece in a 1-0 win over eventual Class 6A champion Helena on March 10.

Senior Skylar Holland received All-State honorable mention from the ASWA as a utility player. Holland, a first baseman/DH who also pitched for the Golden Tigers, tied teammate Landon Ezzell for the state lead this season with 18 doubles and ranked sixth in the state with 53 hits. Holland went 7-for-9 in three games at the state finals and finished the season batting .344 with six home runs, 45 RBIs and 26 runs scored. He recorded 14 multi-hit games and reached base at a solid .391 clip.

For his two-year varsity career at RHS, Holland batted .330 with 110 hits, including 13 home runs and 33 doubles, and 107 RBIs.

As a senior in 2017, Holland went 6-3 on the mound with a team-best five saves, posting a 2.29 ERA in 21 appearances. He struck out 59 batters and walked only 19 in 55 innings. Holland earned the win in the decisive Game 3 against Faith Academy at the state finals in Montgomery, holding the Rams to two runs in six innings.

Elsewhere in the Free Press coverage area, Colbert Heights had two players receive All-State honors from the ASWA after advancing all the way to the Class 3A state semifinals. Senior pitcher Dakota McCreless was a second-team selection, and junior outfielder Brendan Borden earned honorable mention.

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