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Mariners pitcher Joe Saunders and golfer Johnson Wagner head the latest Hokies class.
Seattle's Joe Saunders pitches against Milwaukee on Friday in Seattle.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
BLACKSBURG - Major league pitcher Joe Saunders and pro golfer Johnson Wagner are among six former Hokies athletes who have been selected for the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
The rest of this year's class includes Roanoke County resident and former basketball player Bobby Beecher, ex-NFL player John Engelberger, ex-softball player Clarisa Crowell and former tennis player Jimmy Milley.
They will be inducted on Nov. 15 and will be introduced at halftime of Tech's football game the following day.
* Beecher was part of the 1985-86 Tech men's basketball senior class that also included Dell Curry and Keith Colbert. Their 87 wins total ties for the most career wins by a Tech senior class. In addition, the class made two NIT and two NCAA tournament appearances.
Beecher was named Metro Conference freshman of the year. He played in 128 of the Hokies' 129 games during his career - and started 126 of those. He also played for the U.S. in the World University Games prior to his senior season at Tech.
Beecher ranks third all-time at Tech in blocked shots (170) and stands in the top 10 in career rebounds (797), field goals made (640) and free-throw percentage (80.7 percent). He is 16th all-time in scoring (1,548 points). He was drafted by the Sacramento Kings.
* Crowell, who is now the head softball coach at Miami of Ohio, pitched and played in the infield and outfield for the Hokies from 1999-2002. She earned All-Atlantic 10 and All-Big East honors.
She stands second all-time at Tech in winning percentage as a pitcher (.722), third in career ERA (1.39) and shutouts (26), and fourth in wins (65) and complete games (62).
As a hitter, Crowell is in the top 10 all-time at Tech in career RBIs (103), hits (200), doubles (35) and runs (104).
* Engelberger joined the football program as a walk-on tight end in 1995. After redshirting his first season, he moved to defensive end in 1996. He was the top tackler on the line for Tech in his freshman year.
He earned All-Big East second-team honors as a sophomore and junior.
As a senior in 1999, Engelberger and Corey Moore made up one of the best defensive end tandems in the country. Engelberger was named a second-team All-American and helped Tech reach the national championship game.
Engelberger's career totals for sacks (26.5), tackles for loss (25) and total tackles behind the line (51.5) rank in the top five all-time at Tech.
He was a second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers. He spent five years with the 49ers, then spent four more seasons with the Denver Broncos.
* Milley grew up in Danville and had a notable junior tennis career before joining the Tech tennis team in 1975.
He won at least 20 matches in each of his last three seasons at No. 1 singles and was the first Tech player to win the Virginia State College Fall Tournament. He was also the first Hokie to make the NCAA singles tournament.
Milley's singles record of 27-2 in 1979 is the best single-season finish for a Tech player. He was also a three-time Virginia State Open winner. After playing professionally, Milley now works as an operating room nurse.
* Saunders came to Virginia Tech after declining to sign out of high school with the Philadelphia Phillies. In his three seasons with the Hokies, Saunders earned first-team All-Atlantic 10 honors, then was a two-time All-Big East performer. He helped Tech win the A-10 title and make the NCAA tournament as a freshman.
As a junior, Saunders led the Big East in strikeouts with 102 in 97 2⁄3 innings, while walking just 22 batters. His 1.81 ERA in league games was the best of any Big East starter.
Saunders was the first Tech pitcher to win nine or more games in three consecutive seasons, and his 27 wins is third on the school's all-time list.
He was the 12th overall pick in the 2002 major league draft by the Anaheim Angels. Saunders made his debut in the majors on Aug. 16, 2005, against the Toronto Blue Jays.
He was selected to the 2008 All-Star game and is now in his ninth major-league season. He has played for the Angels, Arizona Diamondback and Baltimore Orioles and currently pitches for the Seattle Mariners.
* Wagner was named the Atlantic 10 rookie of the year for the 1998-99 golf season.
As a sophomore, he led the nation in eagles. As a junior, the All-Big East pick was part of the Hokies' Big East championship team that went on to finish eighth in the NCAA championships.
He was a third-team All-American as a senior, when he won the Big East tournament individual title and helped the Hokies repeat as Big East champs.
Wagner has won three PGA Tour events - most recently the 2012 Sony Open in Hawaii - and has played in the last two Masters.
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