In the span of a few days during the summer, at the East Coast Pro Showcase in Wilmington, N.C., Forest Park senior pitcher Ryan Woolley went from being a second-team all-Cardinal District pitcher to a coveted college prospect.
Right-hander Woolley closed the deal last week by signing with the University of Georgia for a half-scholarship, fulfilling his ambition of pitching in the Southeastern Conference.
Georgia went 30-25 last season, 12-17 in the SEC, and had six players drafted in June. The Bulldogs finished third at the College World Series in 2004.
"They kind of jumped on my radar screen after that showcase," Woolley said. "It happened really quick. Georgia, South Carolina and [Louisiana State] kind of jumped on once that came. That really kick-started a lot of things for me."
Woolley said he carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning at the showcase and that his fastball topped out at 94 mph, a mark he hit throughout the summer.
Despite the fastball, Woolley considers his curve his most effective pitch, and he credits Forest Park Coach Jerry Mobley and Bruins pitching coach Brian Fitzgerald with honing his mechanics and mental approach.
"Before [last] season, I was a thrower more than a pitcher," Woolley said.
Three other area baseball and softball players were set to sign this past week.
Osbourn senior shortstop Brent Greer, who missed part of last season with a broken wrist, officially committed to Western Carolina. Greer batted .277 last spring and, in his high school pitching debut, threw five strong innings in the Northwestern Region championship victory over Stonewall Jackson.
Potomac senior pitcher Mike Matta, who played a variety of positions for the Panthers, will continue his career at Mount St. Mary's. He batted .410 with 21 RBI and went 6-3 with a 1.53 ERA.
Hylton senior catcher Sarah Himan, a two-time All-Extra choice, signed with Radford to play softball. The Cardinal District co-player of the year drove in 28 runs, batted .451 and committed no errors.
Himan was a major part of the Bulldogs' record-setting season. She tied a state record for hits in a game with five, which helped the team set a state mark for hits in a season with 257.
Teammate Ashley Ahearn hit a state-record 10 triples, the bulk of the team's record 34 three-baggers.