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Tuesday, 09 August 2016 22:27

App State Running Backs Ranked by Athlon Sports

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Appalachian State University Football once again received recognition from Athlon Sports college football columnist Steve Lassan, as he ranked the Mountaineers’ running backs unit the 23rd-best group out of 50 units on Tuesday.

App State is one of three schools from the Sun Belt to make the list with archrival Georgia Southern coming in at 21st and New Mexico State landing the 50th spot.

Appalachian boasted one of the most consistent and lethal ground attacks in the nation, where it ran for at least 200 yards in 11 of 13 contests, six 300 yard outputs and a 401-yard performance on the ground at Idaho. App State rushed for 3,529 yards in 2015, which was the third most in a single-season in school history, and the highest rushing total since 2007 when the Black and Gold set the school record for rushing yards in a season with 4,311 yards.

The trio of Marcus Cox (Dacula, Ga./Dacula), Jalin Moore (Shelby, N.C./Crest) and Terrence Upshaw (Duluth, Ga./Northview) boasted one of the best units in the country leading the Apps’ rushing attack that ranked sixth in the nation averaging 271.5 yards rushing per game and 5.83 yards per rush.

Cox led the bunch with a career-high of 1,423 yards rushing, good for 17th in the country and third in the conference. The senior tailback is just 716 yards away from breaking John Settle’s career school record of 4,804 yards. Cox is also the lone student-athlete in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons, while he is just one 100-yard rushing game away from breaking the tie with Settle for the all-time mark at 23 games.

Moore came onto the scene late last season where he emerged as the No. 2 running back and finished second with 731 yards rushing. The sophomore stud rushed for 528 yards in the last four games, including a freshman rushing record of 244 yards against Idaho. Moore ran for at least 80 yards in the final four contests of the season. Moore averaged nearly a first down on each carry where he paced App State at a 7.4 yards per rushing clip and at least 80 rushing attempts.

Upshaw finished third on the team with 442 yards on the ground and three scores while sporting 5.5 yards per rush. The bruising halfback rushed for at least 45 yards in six contests and rushed for at least 10 attempts in four games.

The trio will look to continue their success on Thursday, Sept. 1 when the Apps open up the season in Knoxville against the No. 10 Tennessee Volunteers.

Appalachian State University volleyball is set to play an intrasquad Black and Gold scrimmage on Sunday, August 21 at 4 p.m.

Fans can get their first glance at the 2016 Mountaineer volleyball team that weekend as the team will play a Black vs. Gold match at Varsity Gym. Following the scrimmage fans will be able to meet the team, get autographs and take pictures with the players.

Appalachian volleyball is currently coming off of its second season in the Sun Belt Conference where they tied the win streak program record (16) and finished ranked No. 2 in the league to go all the way to the league Championship game where they fell in a heartbreaking five-set match to first-ranked Arkansas State. Led by Sun Belt Offensive Student-Athlete of the Year Jess Keller, the Mountaineers led the Sun Belt in four team categories (kills, assists, hitting percentage and digs) and finished in the top two of three individual categories (kills, assists and hitting percentage).

The team will officially begin the season when they travel to Blacksburg, Va. for a tournament at Virginia Tech beginning on Friday, Aug. 26 against the Hokies. The Apps will also play Norfolk State and Siena over the course of the two-day event. The home opener for the Mountaineers begins on Friday, Sept. 2 as Appalachian hosts UNCW, Wofford and Ohio in the Black and Gold Invitational.

A red-hot Hickory Crawdads lineup was cooled off for a night by the defending South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week on Monday, as Augusta GreenJackets' starter Michael Connolly allowed just one hit over seven scoreless innings to lead the 'Jackets to a 5-0 defeat of the 'Dads at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Crawdads entered the game fresh off a series win in Lexington, where the 'Dads bats combined for 38 runs on 48 hits while winning three out of four games. Connolly meanwhile was just named the SAL Pitcher of the Week after tossing six shutout innings on one hit in his last start vs. Columbia on August 2nd. Hickory looked good early with a leadoff single to start the game and two runners in scoring position in the first inning, but Connolly recovered to escape and started a string of 23 consecutive batters retired.

The GreenJackets hopped on Crawdads starting pitcher Wes Benjamin in the top of the first, as Johneshwy Fargas lined a double on the first pitch of the night before he eventually scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 Augusta advantage. Eric Jenkins led off the home half of the inning with a base hit up the middle, followed by his league-leading 47th steal of the season to quickly give the 'Dads a chance to tie the game. LeDarious Clark reached one out later on an error by 'Jackets shortstop John Polonius before he too stole second base to put runners at second and third with one out. Connolly worked his way out of the inning however with back-to-back strikeouts of Tyler Sanchez and Xavier Turner to keep the GreenJackets on top by a run.

The Crawdads would not put another man on base until both Josh Altmann and Jenkins drew walks in the ninth inning.

Augusta picked up another tally in the top of the third when Fargas reached on a hit-by-pitch and eventually scored on an RBI sacrifice fly from Skylar Ewing to make the score 2-0. The 'Jackets then pushed their lead to 3-0 in the fourth thanks to a leadoff, solo home run by Seth Harrison. The GreenJackets capped off their scoring in the seventh when they plated two runs, one earned, off of Hickory reliever Christian Torres for the final 5-0 score they would win by.

Benjamin (5-5) finished with a quality start but still took the loss for the Crawdads, with three runs allowed on five hits, three walks, and six strikeouts over six innings pitched. Connolly (10-4) earned the win after holding the 'Dads to no runs on one hit and seven strikeouts over his seven innings pitched.

Jenkins was only Hickory hitter to reach base multiple times, as he ended the night 1-3 with a walk.

The Crawdads (24-19/62-51) will take on the GreenJackets (26-17/62-51) again Tuesday night at 7:00 pm, in game two of their three game series.

Appalachian State University Football head coach Scott Satterfield was named as one of college football’s “Top 25 Coaches on the Rise” by Athlon Sports college football columnist Steven Lassan.

Lassan ranked Satterfield in the top 10 at seventh, making the fourth-year head coach the top-ranked coach from the Sun Belt that made the list. Joining Satterfield from the league are Blake Anderson (14th- Arkansas State), Mark Hudspeth (18th- UL Lafayette), Neal Brown (22nd - Troy), and Trent Miles (24th - Georgia State). Also, Lassan said of Satterfield “No coach is better suited than Satterfield for the top spot at Appalachian State.“

It comes to no surprise where Satterfield is listed in the ranks of the top rising coaches in the country, as the Mountaineers are 15-2 in their last 17 games with the two losses coming at the hands of national runner-up Clemson and defending Sun Belt Champion, Arkansas State.

Satterfield helped the Apps go 11-2 in 2015. The Mountaineers’ 11 victories set a new Sun Belt single-season record and were the most-ever by a team in its first full-fledged campaign as an FBS member. Appalachian capped the historic season with a 31-29 victory over Ohio in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl to become the first program to ever win a bowl game in its first full-fledged FBS season (a feat matched by Sun Belt counterpart Georgia Southern four days later).

In his first three seasons, Satterfield has improved his win total and the Mountaineers’ standing in the Sun Belt. With 17-of-22 starters returning on both side of the ball, the Apps are looking to reach new heights in 2016.

Appalachian is currently in fall camp and counting down until the season-opener against the 10th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers on Thursday, Sept. 1 in Knoxville.

Highlighted by four home games, trips to Georgia Tech and Tennessee along with a season-opening weekend tournament at DePaul, Appalachian State University women’s basketball head coach Angel Elderkin announced the 2016-17 non-conference schedule on Monday .

Coach Elderkin and the rest of the coaching staff made sure the Apps would be tested during their non-conference schedule, where nine of the 12 teams posted a winning record while six made it to the postseason and two teams won their conference tournament.

Appalachian will kick-off the season with a pair of 7 p.m. exhibition contests in the Holmes Center against Coker College (Nov. 2) and Lenoir-Rhyne five days later on Nov. 7.

The Mountaineers will spend the first two weeks of the season on the road, as they will open up the 2016-17 slate with a weekend tournament in Chicago against two formidable opponents in either Gardner-Webb, UAB or host DePaul. The three teams combined for a .622 win percentage, including DePaul’s 27-9 mark. The Blue Demons advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament with wins over James Madison and Louisville.

Six days later, the Apps will make the trek to Lynchburg, Va. for a Nov. 18 contest against Liberty. The Flames finished with a solid 20-13 record en route to an appearance in the WNIT. Liberty dealt Appalachian State a 74-68 setback in the Apps’ season opener in the Holmes Center. Appalachian will then make the short trip to Richmond two days later to face the Spiders on Nov. 20.

On Nov. 23, the Mountaineers hit the road once again to face former SoCon rival, ETSU. The Mountaineers have had the Bucs’ number, winning six out of the past seven contests while last season’s victory gave App State its first win of the season, 70-52.

App State’s first home game won’t ensue until Nov. 27, which will start a stretch of three-straight home affairs. The Black and Gold will play College of Charleston (Nov. 27), North Carolina A&T (Nov. 30) and Radford (Dec.4) in the Holmes Center. NC A&T won the MEAC Tournament Championship with a 19-12 record while Radford also finished with a winning mark at 18-13.

Road contests against Georgia Tech (Dec. 11) and storied program Tennessee (Dec. 14) will ensue during the following week. The Yellow Jackets and Volunteers posted a .608 (42-27) combined winning percentage while both teams played in the postseason. UT advanced all the way its third elite eight appearances in four seasons before being eliminated by Syracuse.

A Dec. 21 contest in the Holmes Center against Big South Tournament Champion and NCAA Tournament participant UNC Asheville will close the non-conference schedule. UNCA ended the season with an impressive 26-7 mark and a 16-4 record in its league.

Coming off a 10-20 (9-11 Sun Belt) 2015-16 campaign, the Mountaineers will return 13 of 15 student-athletes from last season’s squad along with four highly-talented freshmen, giving the Apps plenty of depth for what looks to be a rebound season.

The weather was once again overcast and drizzly, but that wouldn’t stop Appalachian State University women’s soccer from holding their annual Black and Gold Scrimmage on Sunday night at Appalachian Soccer Stadium.

“Our primary objective was to (one) look at the chemistry between players because we’ve been working hard and really competing a lot in preseason,” head coach Sarah Strickland said. “The other objective was to figure out once we saw where the chemistry was, what does that look like for a formation. We’ve traditionally played a 4-3-3 but this spring we played a 4-4-2. What does the personnel dictate the formation should be. And then also just giving them a chance to show what they can do and taking away those restrictions of practice, for them to show their creativity.”

The Mountaineers played four, 20-minute periods in the scrimmage, mixing and matching lineups throughout the evening and showcasing the versatility of the roster.

In the first period, the Gold team went up 1-0 on a cross from the middle of the field to just right of the goal as sophomore Jessica Easley (Waxhaw, N.C./Mavin Ridge) punched it home for the first goal of the scrimmage.

In the second period, senior Jane Cline (Cornelius, N.C./Charlotte Catholic) took over on the forward attack, striking the equalizer on an unassisted goal for the Black team to even things up at 1-1.

In the third period, the teams were more deadlocked for much of the 20-minutes. Neither team could make any kind of headway before the Black team’s freshman Maggie Hanusek (Cumming, Ga./Lambert) broke the seal, scoring from the far left side after freshman goalkeeper Heather Ostwalt (Boone, N.C./Watauga) got pulled away from the goal. Just under a minute later, junior Erin Settle (Mooresville, N.C./Mooresville) on team Black made it 3-1 from the left side, shooting a high shot through the uprights.

In the fourth and final period, the two teams played a deadlock as the period took a more game-like approach, with substitutions from coaches and a full-on attack from the team to try and win the scrimmage.

The Mountaineers will now prepare for next week’s two home preseason exhibitions before the regular season begins. App State will face Western Carolina on Thursday, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. and then will take on Elon on Saturday, Aug. 13 for a noon kickoff. The regular season begins at home for Appalachian as they host Northern Kentucky on Aug. 19 at 4 p.m. All three of these matches will be at the Appalachian Soccer Stadium at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex.

The Hickory Crawdads saw a comfortable seven run lead disappear Sunday afternoon when the Lexington Legends tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, but the 'Dads were able to salvage a victory thanks to a grand slam by Ti'Quan Forbes in the 10th that lifted Hickory to a 12-7 win at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

The Crawdads jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the game with two runs in the first inning, one in the second, and four in the third. The Legends began chipping away at the deficit with two tallies in the fifth frame and four in the seventh, before the home team tied the score at 7-7 in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings. The 'Dads responded with their biggest inning of the day in the top of the 10th, as Forbes clubbed a grand slam home run to left to break up the tie before Connor McKay immediately followed with a solo home run to lift the visiting team to a 12-7 Hickory victory.

The Crawdads leave Lexington with a series win, three games to one. The 'Dads have now won seven of their last eight games to improve to six games over .500 for the first time in the second half with a 24-18 record.

Hickory took a quick 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the first inning. Eric Jenkins walked to start the rally, before the speedster stole second base and came home to score on an RBI single from Frandy De La Rosa. LeDarious Clark followed with a walk and Xavier Turner reached on a hit-by-pitch one out later to load the bases for Yeyson Yrizarri, who brought in the second tally of the frame on an RBI, fielder's choice groundout.

The 'Dads picked up another run in the second on a double from McKay and an RBI single by Jenkins to make the score 3-0. The club then broke the game open with four more tallies on four hits in the third for a 7-0 advantage. Tyler Sanchez brought in the first run on a solo home run to left for his ninth long ball of the season. Turner followed with a hit-by-pitch and Yrizarri reached on a bunt single to bring up Forbes, who delivered a 2-RBI base knock to center. Two batters later, Josh Altmann lined an RBI double to left to plate Forbes and give the Crawdads their seven run lead.

The score held until the bottom of the fifth, when Lexington scored a pair of unearned runs against Hickory starting pitcher Blake Bass to cut their deficit to 7-2. The Legends then pulled the score to 7-6 in the seventh, as they loaded the bases against Crawdads reliever Garrett Brummett before Roman Collins unloaded a grand slam to right off of Omarlin Lopez.

Lopez stayed in the game and pitched a perfect eighth, but the right-handed bullpen arm walked consecutive batters in the ninth to put the tying run at second base and the winning run at first. The 'Dads then brought in left-handed reliever Jason Richman, who got a fly out for the second out of the inning before Xavier Fernandez lined an RBI single to left to tie the score at 9-9.

Undeterred, the Hickory hitters went right back to work in the top of the 10th when Clark reached on an infield single, Sanchez was hit by a pitch, and Turner drew a walk to load the bases. One out later, Forbes connected on the Crawdads first grand slam of the season when he launched a home run off the video board in left to put the 'Dads back on top. McKay then made it back-to-back long balls when he connected on a solo homer off the foul pole in left for the 12-7 lead the Crawdads would win by.

Forbes finished the game 2-5 with his fourth home run of the year and six RBI, the most by a Hickory hitter in a single game this season. Jenkins ended the day 2-5 with a double, RBI, walk, and his league-leading 45th stolen base, while De La Rosa went 2-6 with a double and an RBI.

Richman (1-0) earned the win for the 'Dads with no runs allowed on one hit and one walk over 0.2 innings, while Lexington reliever Yunior Marte (6-5) took the loss after giving up two runs on one hit, one walk, and six strikeouts over five innings on the mound.

The Crawdads (24-18/62-50) will now return to Hickory for a weeklong homestand beginning Monday night, with a 7:00 pm game against the Augusta GreenJackets at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Sunday, 07 August 2016 17:24

Hickory Crawdads Resume Winning Ways

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The Hickory Crawdads took advantage of some early offense and a rare steal of home to come away with a win Saturday night in Kentucky, as the 'Dads plated three runs in the first and another in the third before LeDarious Clark stole home for the final run in the ninth in a 5-1 Hickory victory over the Lexington Legends at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

The Crawdads carried a 4-1 lead into the top of the ninth inning, when Clark reach on a hit-by-pitch and advanced to third on a one out single from Tyler Sanchez. 'Dads DH Xavier Turner then stepped to the plate and took ball out of the zone, which Legends catcher Xavier Fernandez routinely threw the back to pitcher Mark McCoy. Clark immediately broke for home on the throw to the mound, with the Hickory speedster beating the throw back to the plate for a stolen base and a run scored for the 5-1 lead the Crawdads would win by.

The 'Dads jumped out to an early advantage in the game with a three-run first inning. Eric Jenkins started the rally with leadoff walk, which was followed by a single from Frandy De La Rosa that allowed Jenkins to go to third base. Jenkins then scored on a wild pitch, before Clark lined an RBI double to center field and Sanchez looped an RBI single to left to put Hickory ahead 3-0.

The Crawdads pushed the lead to 4-0 in the third, with a leadoff double from Yeyson Yrizarri, an infield single by Ti'Quan Forbes, and a stolen base by Forbes that also saw Fernandez throw the ball into center field for a run-scoring error.

Lexington was finally able to get on the board against Hickory starting pitcher Jonathan Hernandez in the bottom of the sixth, as Jecksson Flores doubled to left and D.J. Burt drove him home with an RBI base knock to make the score 4-1. Crawdads reliever Adam Choplick stopped the rally there however, as he entered and retired the next three batters to end the inning.

Choplick also threw scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth innings, before Clark added to the 'Dads lead with his steal of home in the top of the ninth and reliever Christian Torres tossed a scoreless bottom of the frame to finish off the 5-1 win.

Hernandez (9-8) earned the win for Hickory with one run allowed on three hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. Lexington starter Scott Blewett (6-10) took the loss after giving up three runs on four hits, two walks, and three strikeouts over 1.2 IP.

Clark led the 'Dads bats on the night with a 2-4 game including a double, RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base. De La Rosa also had a multi-hit game going 2-5 with a double and a run scored, while Sanchez reached base safely four times with a 2-3 contest including a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and an RBI.

The Crawdads (23-18/61-50) will now go for the series win over the Legends (18-23/43-67) Sunday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 2:05 pm.

At the stroke of midnight, the Appalachian State University volleyball team began the 2016 season with its fourth annual “Midnight Battle” intrasquad scrimmage on Friday evening/Saturday morning.

“I thought we looked good for day one with seven-and-a-half new people if you count Ashlyn Brown who joined us in January,” head coach Matt Ginipro said. “Just a bunch of young people playing really, really well. We just have to hone in on our tempo, but if that’s the starting point for us, then preseason is going to be really good.”

“The Midnight Battle is just something fun and something different,” Ginipro continued. “In the first practice, especially when you have so many young kids, just getting them to compete the first time rather than worrying about training, training, training, and then doing it in our first opportunity, doing it at midnight, it’s just something fun to do. It lightens the mood a little bit, especially when you have six freshmen who are probably nervous and are probably scared about some things. They can go, ‘Oh wait, I can just play.’”

The season began by the group of 21 student-athletes and coaches circling up, hand in hand, and talking about the journey that is ahead of each of them. They then bowed their heads and listened to “The Pursuit” speech by Eddie Pinero that echoed through the Holmes Center.

Immediately following, play began with high energy from the first serve. In the first set, the junior outside hitter Tierney Flaherty (Georgetown, Ind./Floyd Central (Wofford)) dropped a furious kill to set the tone for the rest of the night. Other newcomers, Emma Longley (Raleigh, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons), Kennedy Wilson (Avon, Ind./Avon), Amanda Krahl (Pearland, Texas/St. Agnes Academy), Sydney Farthing (Boone, N.C./Watauga), Taylor Ashcraft (Cumming, Ga./West Forsyth) and Mikel Coleman (Farmington Hills, Mich./Harrison) relished in their first collegiate volleyball practice.

Newcomer transfer Ashlyn Brown (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot (New Mexico State)) also brought a high level of effort in her first time suiting up in the Black and Gold.

Not to be outdone, seniors Olivia Reed (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz), and Kati Stammen (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville Road) led the way by helping with the tempo and constantly communicating, holding the Mountaineers steady on defense while making sure others were in their correct spots for plays on offense. Other returners Alana Shoff (Melbourne, Fla./Melbourne Central Catholic), Olivia Loeffler (Lincolnton, N.C./North Lincoln) and Cassidy Stephenson (Wilmington, N.C./Hoggard) battled hard as middle backs and liberos to elevate the effort even further.

Sophomores Jenna Talbert (Orange City, Fla./University) and Melissa McMath (Lexington, N.C./Central Davidson) both worked the outside well getting several kills on the night, while junior Courtney Sullivan (Commerce Township, Mich./Walled Lake Northern (UNCG)) proved to be valuable guarding the zones and even getting into the attack game.

Seniors Ashton Gregory (Yadkinville, N.C./Starmount (Furman)) and Sloan Evans (San Antonio, Teas/Alamo Heights) were unable to practice due to nagging preseason injuries. Despite being inactive, the two took time between games to meet with and coach their respective positions.

Appalachian has 20 days to prepare for its regular-season opener as the Mountaineers travel to Blacksburg, Va. for a tournament at Virginia Tech beginning on Friday, Aug. 26 against the Hokies. The Apps will also play Norfolk State and Siena over the course of the two-day event. The home opener for the Mountaineers comes on Friday, Sept. 2 as Appalachian hosts UNCW, Wofford and Ohio in the Black and Gold Invitational.

Sunday, 07 August 2016 17:20

Tuner Home Runs Lost in Crawdads Loss

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The Hickory Crawdads received a two home run debut from first baseman Xavier Turner Friday night, but the pair of solo shots weren't enough as the 'Dads had their five game win streak snapped in a 6-2 loss to the Lexington Legends at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

Turner wasted no time enduring himself to his new Crawdads teammates, as the former Vanderbilt standout lined a solo homer in his first at-bat as a 'Dad in the second inning. The 6'1" slugger then went deep again with an even longer solo shot in the ninth for his second blast of the night. The impressive debut couldn't offset a four-run seventh inning by Lexington however, as the Legends used the big frame to break up a one run game and pull away for the 6-2 final score.

Lexington used a long ball of their own to take a quick lead in the first inning, as Brandon Dulin launched a two-run blast to right-center field off of 'Dads starting pitcher Joe Palumbo for a 2-0 score. Hickory responded in the top of the second, when Turner lined solo homer just inside the left field foul pole to cut the deficit to 2-1.

The score remained the same until the home half of the seventh, when Lexington erupted for four runs on three hits and three walks off of Crawdads relievers Omarlin Lopez and Jason Richman to take a 6-2 lead. Xavier Fernandez started the rally when he lined the first pitch of the frame over the fence in left for a solo home run. Two batters later, Ben Johnson delivered an RBI double to left before Dulin eventually capped the inning with a 2-RBI base knock to right to put the Legends up by five runs.

The 'Dads picked up one last tally in the top of the ninth when Turner went deep for a second time, before Lexington reliever Franco Terroro closed out the game with a 6-2 final score.

Palumbo (6-4) took the loss for Hickory after allowing two runs on five hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over five innings pitched. Legends starting pitcher Emilio Oganado (7-9) earned the win with one run allowed on four hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts, while Terrero (1) recorded the save after giving up one run over his three inning on the mound.

Turner paced the 'Dads bats with a 2-4 game including two home runs, while Yeyson Yrizarri also went 2-4 with a double.

The Crawdads (22-18/60-50) and Legends (18-22/43-66) will play again Saturday night at 6:35 pm in game three of their four game series.

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