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After playing in just two games apiece in 2013, Appalachian State University defensive lineman Ronald Blair (Greensboro, Ga./Greene County) and defensive back Jordan Ford (Calhoun Falls, S.C./Calhoun Falls Charter) have been granted medical redshirts and have each gained an additional season of athletic eligibility.

Blair’s 2013 campaign was derailed by a combination of issues, not the least of which was a severe thumb injury that required surgery. With the medical redshirt, he continues to be a junior eligibility-wise and has two seasons of eligibility remaining. Despite missing 10-of-12 games last year, Blair was tabbed as a preseason first-team all-Sun Belt Conference honoree by Phil Steele’s 2014 College Football Preview. The 6-4, 275-pounder has been a starter for all 26 games that he has played at Appalachian State and owns 7.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in his career.

Ford, who was limited to seven games in two seasons at Monroe (N.Y.) College due to a hip injury, retains three seasons of eligibility. Despite the minimal playing time in the junior-college ranks, he was tabbed as a two-star recruit by 247Sports. He enrolled at Appalachian State in January but was not able to participate in spring practice while continuing to recover from the injury.

Appalachian State opens fall camp on Aug. 1 in preparation for the 2014 season opener on Aug. 30 at Michigan.

Bryan Bender has been named as the new Director of Basketball Operations for Appalachian State University men’s basketball, head coach Jim Fox announced on Monday.

“Bryan comes to Appalachian State with an impressive background. He has had he opportunity to work with Tubby Smith at Minnesota and USA Basketball under Bob McKillop,” said Fox. “Bryan is a jack of all trades with a tremendous work ethic. He has already made his mark on our program and we are very fortunate to have him as part of the App State family.”

Bender joins the Mountaineers after one season as an assistant coach at Missouri State University-West Plains. In his lone season he helped direct a squad that put West Plains on the map as a perennial recruiting hot bed. MSU-West Plains had over 100 NCAA Division I coaches from 70 different programs witness a game or practice last year. Five players signed National Letters of Intents with Division I institutions and the Grizzlies produced three NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) all-region selections, including two of the top-50 junior college players in the nation; Justin Jamison and Devaugntah Williams who both signed with Texas Tech this spring.

On top of watching his players have success being recruited to the highest level, Bender gained valuable recruiting experience while helping rebuild a full roster in one year. Bender and the rest of the West Plains coaching staff signed 16 players from all over the United States and Europe. The recruiting class had players from Minnesota, Maryland, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania, Serbia, Poland and the United Kingdom.

In addition to helping guide the Grizzlies to 18 victories on the court, he also guided the program to success in the classroom. As the study hall coordinator Bender’s student-athletes set a record for highest team GPA in school history his first semester on campus and six players earned their associates degree from West Plains. Bender also served as a per-course faculty instructor and dorm director in his time in West Plains.

Prior to his time at MSU-West Plains, Bender spent eight seasons at the University of Minnesota in a variety of roles with the Golden Gophers. During his last three seasons, he served as Minnesota’s video coordinator, overseeing film exchange, student managers and all video duties. He aided in numerous aspects of the program including practice planning, recruiting, academics and scheduling. Prior to being the video coordinator, he spent four seasons as a student manager with the program, including two as the head student manager and film coordinator and was a graduate assistant during the 2009-10 season.

During Bender’s tenure at Minnesota the Gophers made six postseason appearances including three trips to the NCAA Tournament and three more to the NIT. During the 2012-2013 season, the Gophers spent 14 weeks ranked in the top 25, including three weeks in the top 10, and capped off the year with a win over UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Bender also gained valuable experience as part of the support staff for the 2008 USA Basketball U18 Junior National Team, where he worked for legendary Davidson head coach Bob McKillop, and also served as assistant director of the Tubby Smith Basketball Camps for six years.

A native of Cambridge, Wis., Bender holds two degrees from the University of Minnesota, earning his bachelor’s degree in sports management in 2008 before earning his master’s in applied kinesiology with an emphasis in sports management and coaching in 2010.

Appalachian State University field hockey head coach Brandi Alexander Kist announced the field hockey 2014 schedule on Monday, highlighted by 12 matches in the yet-to-be-named new home for the team.

“Hosting 12 teams this fall means our athletes travel less and will play in front of a home crowd,” Alexander Kist said. “We are looking forward to developing more of an App State student-body and Boone community fan base. “

Appalachian will play one exhibition contest when it travels to Longwood on Aug. 18 before opening the regular season at its new home with two-straight home matches. Georgetown will be the first visitor to the new field when the Mountaineers kick off the regular season at 3 p.m. on Aug. 29 before playing host to Ball State on Sept. 1

The field hockey-specific stadium is located on the site of the former App State Soccer Stadium at Appalachian’s State Farm Fields Complex. Appalachian State’s soccer programs called the site home from 2005-07. The lead gift for the stadium’s field was provided by Appalachian State alumni Brandon and Erica (Muschamp) Adcock. Erica was a three-time all-conference selection as a member of Appalachian’s field hockey program from 2003-06.

“We are very excited to get the 2014 season underway,” Alexander Kist said. “Having the new turf enables us to practice everyday on the same surface we will be competing on for every game even when we travel to other schools. This will enable our team to develop better skills and consistency to be more competitive. With the water based turf, more teams are wanting to come to Boone to play.”

Other highlights on the home schedule include a visit from Atlantic Coast Conference foe Boston College (Oct. 12) and NorPac matches with Liberty (Oct. 10) and Pacific (Oct. 25). Rider, James Madison, William & Mary, St. Joseph’s, Saint Francis and Virginia Commonwealth will also make visits to Boone.

The Mountaineers’ first match away from home will be a neutral-site matchup against Pacific on Sept. 11 in Hanover, N.H. The road slate also includes contests at Davidson, Miami University, Ohio State, Wake Forest and Towson

In all, the Apps will play 19 regular-season matches with only seven coming on the road. That number is a stark contrast from last year, when the Mountaineers played 14-of-18 matches away from the High Country.

A total of four teams on this year’s schedule advance to the NCAA Tournament in 2013 (Boston College, Liberty, Miami University and Wake Forest). Boston College and Wake Forest ended the year ranked No. 11 and No. 13, respectively, in the final NFHCA Coaches Poll a year ago.

The Mountaineers will end their season at the NorPac conference tournament, which runs from Nov. 6-8 in Stockton, Calif.

Date Opponent Site
Aug. 5 Longwood (Scrimmage) Farmville, Va.
Sept. 5 Pacific* Hanover, N.H.
Sept. 14 Davidson Davidson, N.C.
Sept. 20 Miami of Ohio Oxford, Ohio
Sept. 21 Ohio State Columbus, Ohio
Sept. 23 Wake Forest Winston-Salem, N.C.
Oct. 5 Liberty* Lynchburg, Va.
Oct. 19 Towson College Park, Md.
Nov. 2 VCU BOONE, N.C.
Nov. 11 NorPAc Conference Tourn. Stockton, Calif.

* - NorPac contest

The Hickory Crawdads offense had little trouble collecting hits off the Rome Braves pitching staff Sunday afternoon, but the 'Dads 13-single attack wasn't enough as they fell to the Braves 9-4 loss at State Mutual Stadium.

The Crawdads outhit the Braves 13-12, with Ryan Cordell (2-4, 2 RBI), Nomar Mazara (2-5, RBI), Jairo Beras (2-5), and Ronald Guzman (2-3, HBP) all collecting multi-hit games. 10 of Rome's 12 hits were singles as well, but the Braves two extra base hits resulted in four runs scored.

The Braves took an early lead by utilizing the first of their extra base knocks in the 3rd, when Johan Camargo lined a 2-RBI triple into the right field corner for a 2-0 score. Rome pushed their advantage to 5-0 with three more tallies in the 4th, with Reed Harper plating a run on a RBI groundout before Connor Lien crushed a 2-run home run to left for his second long ball of the year.

Rome kept attacking in the 5th, bringing in two more runs to chase Crawdads starting pitcher Akeem Bostick and take a 7-0 lead. The Braves advantage then grew to its largest in the 6th with another run scored off of Hickory reliever Jose Monegro for an 8-0 advantage.

The 'Dads were able to get on the board and break up the shutout in the top of the 7th, with Guzman, Luis Marte, Joe Jackson, Cordell, and Mazara all singling in the frame to drive in three runs and cut the score to 8-3. Following the Braves final tally in the bottom of the 7th, the Crawdads finished the scoring with a RBI single by Michael De Leon in the 8th for the final 9-4 score.

Rome reliever Brandon Barker (1-1) earned the win with three runs allowed on five hits and four strikeouts over 2.2 innings pitched. Bostick (5-5) took the loss for Hickory after giving up seven runs on eight hits, one walk, and three strikeouts during his 4.1 innings on the mound.

The Crawdads (15-10) and Braves (7-18) finish the series with a 4-game split. The 'Dads will be off on Monday before starting a 3-game home stand against the Lakewood BlueClaws Tuesday night at 7:00 pm.

Sunday, 13 July 2014 16:37

Hickory Crawdads Romp at Rome

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The Hickory Crawdads offense came through for the second time in three games vs. the Rome Braves Saturday night, as the 'Dads pounded out eight runs on 14 hits to back up good outings from pitchers Cole Wiper and Ryne Slack in an 8-1 win over the Braves at State Mutual Stadium.

After erupting for 15 runs in game one of the series and being held to three runs in game two, the Hickory hitters asserted their will with a five-run 2nd inning and a three-run 7th en route to plating eight total runs in their third game in Rome. Jairo Beras led the attack with a 4-5 night including a double and two runs scored, while Janluis Castro finished 3-4 with a double and two runs scored.

That was more than enough support for the pitching combination of Wiper and Slack, as the tandem held the Braves to just a lone 2nd inning run on five total hits.

The big 5th inning for the 'Dads began in a big way, as right fielder Nomar Mazara crushed a solo home run over the LED board in right-center field for his 13th homer of the year and a 1-0 Crawdads lead. Kellin Deglan and Beras both followed with singles, before an errant pickoff throw by Rome pitcher Steve Janas allowed Deglan to score and Beras to go to third. Ronald Guzman was then able to reach on a strikeout and wild pitch that also allowed Beras to come home from third. Following a double by Castro to put runners on second and third, Ryan Cordell brought in the frame's fourth tally with a RBI groundout before Joe Jackson capped the rally one batter later with a RBI single to center for a 5-0 Hickory advantage.

The Braves answered in the bottom of the inning when Carlos Franco singled and eventually came home on a wild pitch by Wiper to make the score 5-1, but that would be the only Rome run of the night. Wiper would hold the Braves at bay over the next four frames, before handing the ball off to Slack for the final three innings.

The Crawdads finished the scoring with another crooked number in the 7th, as the 'Dads brought in three runs on three hits for the final 8-1 score. Urbanus plated the first tally with a RBI single to center, while Cordell drove in a run on a RBI sacrifice fly and Michael De Leon picked up a RBI single.

Wiper (6-7) earned the win after holding the Braves to one run on four hits, four walks, and five strikeouts over six innings pitched. Janas (2-4) took the loss for Rome after giving up five runs on eight hits, one walk, and four strikeouts during his four frames on the mound. Slack picked up his third save of the season for his three scoreless innings of work to close out the game.

The Crawdads (15-9) will now go for the series win over the Braves (6-18) in the fourth and final game Sunday afternoon at 2:00 pm.

Hickory Motor Speedway
Race Results for 7/12/2014

4-Cylinders - Feature
Finish Car No Driver Hometown
1 98P Chase Pollard Taylorsville, NC
2 00G Eddie Gilbert Newton, NC
3 28T Dennis Trivette Newton, NC
4 6T Rodney Trivette Newton, NC
5 17 Curtis Pardue Hickory, NC
6 99 Matthew Elledge Statesville, NC
7 11 Robert Trivette Newton, NC
8 98 Rob Lewis Morganton, NC

Late Model - Feature
Finish Car No Driver Hometown
1 88B Josh Berry Hendersonville, TN
2 9 William Byron Charlotte, NC
3 5H Bret Holmes Munford, AL
4 25 Matt Piercy Conover, NC
5 7 Ashley Huffman Connelly Springs, NC
6 8 Chandler LeVan Statesville, NC
7 23R Payton Ryan Concord, NC
8 12 Austin McDaniel Harrisburg, NC
9 0 Shane Lee Newton, NC
10 57C Justin Carroll Concord, NC
11 75H Landon Huffman Claremont, NC
12 7S Justin Crider Statesville, NC
13 88D Doug Barnes Whiteford, MD
14 87 Hayden Woods Piney Flats, TN
15 67H Jacob Harrell Belmont, NC
16 77 C J Hulsey El Paso, TX
17 5B Robert Burton Kannapolis, NC
18 5F Michael Faulk Huntersville, NC DNS

Limited Late Model - Feature
Finish Car No Driver Hometown
1 13J Mark Johnson Newton, NC
2 1B Trent Barnes Whiteford, MD
3 7S Taylor Stricklin Mount Ulla, NC
4 12D Evan Duggins Tobaccoville, NC
5 77B Travis Byrd Sherrills Ford, NC
6 22 Dan Moore Conover, NC
7 18 Casey Pierce Lenoir, NC
8 92 Jason Stanley Kannapolis, NC
9 50 Ross Dalton Liberty, NC
10 25 Allen Huffman Hickory, NC
11 5L Marcus Lambert Woodbridge, VA
12 51 Jeremy Pelfrey Lenoir, NC
13 71X Jason Smith Claremont, NC
14 92S Kyle Southern , NC
15 43 Greg Wise Candler, NC
16 11 Dillon Houser Hildebran, NC
17 5C Dexter Canipe, Jr. Conover, NC DNS
18 21 Monty Cox Granite Falls, NC DNS

Street Stocks - Feature
Finish Car No Driver Hometown
1 3 Kevin Eby Lenior, NC
2 2 Larry Mosher Taylorsville, NC
3 3P Chase Pollard Taylorsville, NC
4 16 Carroll McKinney Hildebran, NC
5 31 Wayne Edwards Denver, NC
6 33 Mark Whitten Gastonia, NC
7 21 Kevin Saam Hudson, NC
8 74 Kim Smith Lincolnton, NC
9 18D Cody DeMarmels Newton, NC
10 10T Kevin Townsend Lenoir, NC
11 64 Marshall Sutton Burnsville, NC DQ

Super Trucks - Feature
Finish Car No Driver Hometown
1 09B Spencer Boyd Concord, NC
2 15C Sheflon Clay Asheville, NC
3 9Q Lee Queen Catawba, NC
4 13 Dakota Slagle Asheville, NC
5 15H Landon Huffman Claremont, NC
6 7 Whitney Lail Hildebran, NC
7 77 Tal Davidson Mooresville, NC
8 36D Tyler Dayton Mooresville, NC
9 91 Keith Norville Forest City, NC

Sunday, 13 July 2014 16:29

Crawdads Doomed by Errors

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The Hickory Crawdads proved to be their own worst enemy Friday night, as two costly Hickory errors transformed into six unearned runs for the Rome Braves resulting in a 7-3 'Dads loss at State Mutual Stadium.

A throwing error by first baseman Ronald Guzman in the 3rd extended the inning and helped the Braves to two unearned tallies, while a throwing miscue by Luis Marte in the 4th opened the door for five total Rome runs, four unearned. The loss snaps an 11-game road, winning streak for the Crawdads and also marks the team's first loss to the Braves this season after five straight wins.

Rome jumped on the scoreboard first in the 3rd, with the Braves using Guzman's throwing error to extend the inning to Tanner Krietemeier who lined a 2-out, 2-RBI triple inside the first base bag for a 2-0 score. The Crawdads immediately answered in the top of the 4th, when Travis Demeritte lined an opposite field, 2-run home run to right-center to tie the game at 2-2.

The deadlocked score wouldn't last long however, as Rome came back with a five-run bottom of the 4th to re-take the lead. The Braves combined Marte's throwing error at third base with a 2-RBI double by Sal Giardina, a RBI single from Johan Camargo, and a 2-RBI double by Krietemeier to plate five total runs, one earned, and take a 7-2 advantage.

Hickory scored the final tally in the 7th, when Michael De Leon brought home Marte on a RBI groundout for the final 7-3 score.

De Leon finished the game 1-3 with a double, two walks, and a RBI, while Marte went 2-4 with a run scored and Kellin Deglan ended the night 2-4 with a double and a run scored. Demeritte went 1-4 with his South Atlantic League leading 19th home run of the season.

Braves starting pitcher Matt Marksberry (1-6) earned his first win of the year after holding the 'Dads to two runs on six hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts over five innings pitched. Crawdads starting pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez (5-4) took the hard-luck loss after giving up seven runs, only one earned, on eight hits over four innings pitched.

The Crawdads (14-9) and Braves (6-17) will play again Saturday night in game three of the four game series at 7:00 pm.

Asheville: 5
Hickory: 4
Asheville Post 70 wins the series 3-1.

Janice Savage, a nine-year coaching veteran that has served as head coach at Delaware State University the past two seasons, was named the fourth head coach in Appalachian State University softball history on Friday.

Savage was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2014 after leading her team, whose starting lineup was comprised of seven sophomores and three freshmen, to the MEAC North Division title and a third-place finish at the conference tournament.

The Hornets finished 35-17 overall in 2014 with a 15-3 record in league play and led the MEAC in virtually every statistical category, including winning percentage (.673), batting average (.321), ERA (2.12) and fielding percentage (.957). DSU also ranked among the top 75 nationally in batting average (16th), ERA (25th), winning percentage (41st), double plays turned per game (47th), scoring (64th) and slugging percentage (75th).

Individually, she coached the MEAC’s Rookie of the Year and four players that earned all-conference recognition, including three first-teamers.

Off the field, her team put together a 3.54 cumulative GPA in the 2013 fall semester, which was the highest team GPA among Delaware State’s 15 varsity programs, while 13 of her 15 student-athletes maintain a cumulative of 3.0 or higher. The program also heard a perfect NCAA Academic Progress Rate score of 1,000 for the year.

Serving as the interim head coach at DSU in 2013, she led the Hornets to a 22-35 overall record and a 12-6 mark in conference play, good for third place in the MEAC’s North Division.

Prior to becoming a head coach, Savage spent seven as an assistant coach, including two stints at Delaware State (2006-08, 2011-12) and a year each at Bowling Green (2009) and North Florida (2010). She served as the pitching coach in her first term at Delaware State and at BGSU and UNF before assuming a more comprehensive role as the top assistant when she returned for her second stint at DSU.

As an assistant at Delaware State in 2008, she helped lead the Hornets to the MEAC championship and first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. In the opening round of the Austin Regional, DSU were five outs away from upsetting host Texas before dropping a heartbreaking 3-2 decision to the Longhorns.

Savage also starred as a softball student-athlete at Delaware State, where she was a pitcher from 2004-05. Despite playing just the final two seasons of her collegiate career at DSU, she is the school’s all-time leader in career strikeouts (323) and also owns program records for single-season (185) and single-game (17) strikeouts. She was a first-team all-MEAC and all-ECAC honoree, as well as a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association academic all-American and two-time MEAC Commissioner’s Award winner.

She began her collegiate career at Appalachian State’s longtime conference rival Georgia Southern, where she earned all-Southern Conference recognition.

Following the end of her collegiate career, Savage played one season professionally for Team Axia of the Italian Women’s Professional Softball League, becoming the first female student-athlete from Delaware State to ever sign a professional sports contract.

She was inducted into the Delaware State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

Savage earned two degrees from DSU, a bachelor’s in sports management (2005) and a master’s in sports administration (2009).

She has two children, Jada and Colton.

“I first would like to thank Delaware State University for everything they have done for my family and myself,” Savage said. “I appreciate the opportunity they gave me and that allowed me to become a better coach and person. DSU has given me an amazing experience and I am and will forever be a Hornet.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to coach at Appalachian State University,” she continued. “The support I have received already from the staff and administration has made this an even more exciting time for me. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to getting to Boone and start preparing for the Sun Belt Conference!”

Record as a Head Coach
Overall: 57-52 (two seasons)
Conference: 27-9

Coaching Experience
2014: Delaware State (head coach)
2013: Delaware State (interim head coach)
2011-12: Delaware State (assistant coach)
2010: North Florida (assistant coach)
2009: Bowling Green (assistant coach)
2006-08: Delaware State (assistant coach)

Playing Experience
2005: Team Axia (Italian Women’s Professional Softball League)
2004-05: Delaware State
2002-03: Georgia Southern

“We’re excited to have Coach Savage join the Appalachian State family. She has had tremendous success as a coach and student-athlete at the Division I level and stresses achievement off the field as much as winning on it. I believe that she is the right choice to lead our program into the Sun Belt Conference and beyond.”
— Appalachian State director of athletics Charlie Cobb

“Appalachian is excited to have Coach Savage become our next head coach and lead us into the Sun Belt Conference. Her personality, energy level, enthusiasm, love for the game and teaching ability will do her well at App State. She is a fireball that loves winning, loves her players, works them hard and expects strong academic performances out of them. We can’t wait for her to get on campus and get started with our team!
— Appalachian State senior woman administrator Debbie Richardson

“I am excited for the Mountaineers’ softball program as they start this next chapter with Coach Savage. She will definitely be a huge asset to both the softball and the athletic program. Coach Savage has a great ability to teach, coach and recruit quality student-athletes, who will represent Appalachian State well in the classroom, on the field and in the community.”
— St. Joseph’s University softball head coach Terri Adams

“Janice Savage is the right choice to take over the App State softball program. You could not have found a coach who will be more invested in her players academically and athletically. She will not only develop champions on the field but bring her insight and life experience to develop young women who are positive role models off the field. She has a vision for what a championship program should look like and she won’t stop working until she brings that success to App State.”
— Georgetown University softball head coach Pat Conlan

“Janice worked at a lot of my camps and clinics. She was a great player, which translates to her coaching. She really treats kids well — she treats them as a coach should and she makes sure they work hard. With that and her success on the field, I think she will be a great at Appalachian State.”
— Towson University softball head coach Lisa Costello

“I’ve known Coach Savage since she was a pitcher in high school, recruited her and have kept track of her over the years. She is a tremendous young lady and a heck of a coach. She is family-oriented and I am happy to get her back in the south so we can see each other more often. She will do a really good job at Appalachian State.”
— Winthrop University softball head coach Mark Cooke

Both the Lenoir-Rhyne University's Men's and Women's Swimming squads garnered Team Scholar All-American accolades for the spring semester of 2014 by the CSCAA. The CSCAA is the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.

For the sixth consecutive semester, the Lenoir-Rhyne men's squad had one of the top three grade point averages among NCAA Division II schools with a 3.50 this spring. Only Urbana (3.76) and Limestone (3.51) had higher grade point averages this past semester.

The Lenoir-Rhyne Women's Swimming Team finished the spring semester with a grade point average of 3.21. The top women's school in NCAA Division II was L.I.U.-Post with a 3.73.

The Team Scholar All American Award is presented to college and university swimming and diving teams, who have achieved a team grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

The award is presented twice annually, once in the fall semester and again in the spring to recognize teams achieving a 3.0 in the semester coinciding with the NCAA/NAIA/NJCAA/CCCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

Founded in 1922, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America is the oldest professional organization of college coaches in America. The CSCAA is dedicated to serving and providing leadership for the advancement of the sport of swimming and diving at the collegiate level.