When the Glenwood baseball team reached the playoffs, the Gators lost the opening game of all three of their playoff series. Three times Daniel Holley got the ball in a Game 2 needing a win to keep the season alive. Three times Holley was able to do just that.
Holley’s outstanding pitching in the playoffs was the perfect cap to a strong senior season. The Tennessee Tech signee went 12-1 for the Gators, throwing 72 innings while striking out 117 batters and posting a 0.68 ERA. Holley’s postseason work paid off, as Glenwood won the state championship, Holley’s second in his three years at the school.
As a result of his play, Holley was chosen as the 2017 All-Bi-City 1A-3A Baseball Pitcher of the Year.
“It was a blessing,” Holley said about his senior season. “We had our highs and we had our lows, but to end it with a state championship was great. Not a lot of people get to say that, so I’m just really thankful.”
Holley’s heroics in the postseason included a start on the biggest stage for the Gators.
After Glenwood dropped its first game of the AISA Class 3A state title series against Pike Liberal Arts, Holley took the mound and pitched all seven innings. In the final inning, Pike put Holley in the same situation he faced in the semifinals series, as the Patriots put runners on second and third in a one-run game.
Despite the dire circumstances, Holley showed no sign of distress as he tried to finish the job on the mound.
“I left a changeup high and he drilled it to the wall (to put) a runner on third and second,” Holley said. “I was kind of thankful the runner on third didn’t score. I just said, ‘Alright. He gave me one more chance. Let’s make sure he doesn’t score.’”
Two strikeouts later, Holley walked off the mound a winner, forcing a third game in the series. Holley played third and first base in the decisive 10-0 victory in Game 3, ultimately catching the final out at first base to clinch the Gators’ 22nd state title in program history.
Holley took off for the mound after the out, ending up on the bottom of a large dogpile of Gators.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” Holley said. “It was amazing. I can’t really describe it, knowing we were done and we’d won it all. We got to leave Glenwood state champs and put our circle on the wall.”
Holley now has his sights set on Tennessee Tech, which caught wind of Holley’s ability thanks to a camp at Glenwood. Holley said he was liked the school’s location in Cookeville and was excited about joining the Golden Eagles team.
Without Holley’s efforts, it’s hard to fathom Glenwood surviving its postseason scares or even reaching that point. Likewise, Holley’s path to college would have also been quite different had he never been a Gator.
“I don’t think I would be the player or person I am without coming here my sophomore year and being a part of this great baseball team and great legacy,” Holley said.
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports