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Tuesday, 06 February 2018 22:26

CVCC Baseball Opens Season on Thursday

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The Catawba Valley Community College baseball team kicks off its 2018 season on Thursday with high hopes and expectations.

The Red Hawks, ranked No. 17 in the preseason National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II poll, return 16 sophomores from a 2017 squad that went 31-25 overall and 16-10 in conference games.

“We’re ready to go,” said fourth-year CVCC head baseball coach Paul Rozzelle. “You practice so much and play against each other so much that it’s nice to play somebody in a different uniform. We’ve got some questions where we are going to be at offensively. I like what our pitchers have done up to this point, but you need to kind of go play. You need to go see them in action in a game and start to figure out your identity.”

Catawba Valley enters 2018 with some uncertainty in some areas, but also confidence in others.

“Right now, we pretty much know we are going to get some good outings from guys on the mound, and we are going to play pretty solid defense,” Rozzelle said. “Now, we’ve got to figure out how to score some runs. It’s going to be interesting to see how we do that, but I think we are going to be fine.”

Despite having only 16 sophomores, leadership is possibly the Catawba Valley baseball team’s greatest attribute.

“I think the sophomores are pretty good in terms of leadership coming back,” he said. “The captains — Graham Mitchell, Julian Smith, Hunter Isaacs and Daniel Brinegar — have done a great job. Other returners like Harry Hatcher, Jimmy Marcelli and Cory Watt may not be captains, but they definitely have a pretty good role with our team. They’ve done a really good job in terms of the culture here of what we want going forward.”

Rozzelle believes a talented freshman class will also mix in well with his returning sophomores to provide a solid base for his team.

“We think we’ve got some guys who can come in and do some really nice things, but you’ve got to see it,” Rozzelle said of his freshmen. “They are going to get their first bite of it here soon.”

Brinegar returns to anchor the catching corps for the Red Hawks after playing behind Gold Glove winner and current Appalachian State baseball player Riley Smith last year.

“(Brinegar) didn’t make an error last year and competes his tail off,” Rozzelle said. “He’s a ball player. That’s what he is. He is kind of gritty and grimy. He leads that (catching) group.”

Freshmen Drew Latham and Willie Gordon and former South Caldwell product Brett Macchia could also see playing time behind the plate.

“We have a bunch of other guys behind (Brinegar) who we like really, really well,” Rozzelle said of his catchers.

The infield is possibly one of the strongest assets for the CVCC baseball team and it includes returners Graham Mitchell at third base, All-Region X defensive team second baseman Jimmy Marcelli and first baseman David Graves, who will also play outfield.

“A lot of times you don’t get to return so many guys coming back,” Rozzelle said. “If you look around that infield, you are going to have a lot of familiar faces, which is really nice because those guys know what to expect and know what to do. We are really excited about that. We kind of have high hopes for that infield unit all year.”

Freshmen Garrison Burress and R.J. Conner will also help play a role in the middle of the infield for the Red Hawks.

CVCC’s outfield will feature a new look after losing its first National Player of the Year in Chandler Jenkins, who is now at East Carolina University, to graduation.

Cory Watt returns at centerfield for the Red Hawks, while freshmen Cody Payne (Clover, S.C.) and Rod Munoz (Apopka, Fla.) and Motlow State transfer D’Marcus Gillory will also factor in to the outfield equation.

“Our outfield is going to be very different,” Rozzelle said. “We’ve got a bunch of speed-type guys. We can cover some ground out there. We are going to have a chance to run baseballs down. We’ve got a chance to be pretty good defensively all the way around in terms of when balls go in air, we have a chance to catch it. That’s always going to help.”

Captains Hunter Isaacs and Julian Smith — an N.C. State signee — lead a group of extremely talented, veteran pitchers for CVCC this spring.

Third-year Catawba Valley pitching coach Kris Harvey has been pleased with what he’s seen from his group on the mound.

“It’s been nice for this group to have some older guys,” Harvey said. “We have a couple of third-year sophomores. It’s nice to have that leadership on the staff. We have a lot of depth. There’s a lot of roles that can be filled and guys can kind of figure out where they are going to fit at. We should be very good at the top, very good at the back and we’ll figure out where guys are going to fit at in the middle.”

The 2018 Catawba Valley baseball schedule will also feature the addition of more mid-week doubleheaders — something Rozzelle is especially excited about.

“One thing it benefits for the most part is hitters and being able to get consistent at bats throughout the year,” Rozzelle said. “Ending on Sunday and not playing again until the next Saturday or Sunday, that’s tough. Now, they’re going to be able to play Saturday and Sunday and then turn around and get four to eight more at bats off live pitching in a game-type situation on a Tuesday or Wednesday. You can’t really beat that.”

Harvey believes Red Hawk pitchers should also benefit from the midweek games.

“It just makes it easier for us to be on a routine,” Harvey said. “Your bullpen guys don’t have to wait. If they have a bad Saturday or Sunday, we’ve got a shot to get them back out in the midweek and really set up for our conference tournament play. More guys are going to have a chance to start. When we get into conference tournament and regionals, we have five or six guys who have started. That will make it hopefully a little bit easier when we get there.”

The Red Hawks host the Piedmont International JV squad in their season opener on Thursday at 3 p.m. for a doubleheader at Henkel-Alley Field — a doubleheader originally scheduled for Saturday.

Despite the 2018 season opener being moved up two days due to inclement weather, Rozzelle believes his team is ready to compete and start what he hopes will be another successful season.

“Moving up is not a bad thing at all,” Rozzelle said. “Our guys are ready to go. The only thing it does is maybe cut down bullpen time leading up to a Thursday start as opposed to a Saturday. They are on limited pitch count any way.

“They are excited,” he added. “They are ready to go. We are ready to go. As we get into the season, every coach wants to know what they have. You can practice all you want to and intrasquad all you want to, but until you go out there and play against outside competition then you know what you’ve got.”

Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield has named App alum and staff member D.J. Smith the team's outside linebackers coach.

Smith, 28, amassed 525 tackles as an App State linebacker from 2007-10 and played four NFL seasons. He returned to Boone in 2016 as the director of recruiting relations and worked last season as a senior defensive analyst.

"D.J.'s experience as a player on our team and in the NFL makes him a great fit in our defensive staff room," Satterfield said. "He's a young coach who brings a lot of excitement and energy. He knows what it's like to win championships and to win the right way."

The addition of Smith rounds out a defensive staff that includes defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach Bryan Brown, co-defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach Dale Jones, assistant head coach/defensive line coach Mark Ivey and safeties coach Greg Gasparato.

"It's been a dream of mine for some time now to be a college football coach," Smith said. "I couldn't be more blessed to have my first opportunity at my alma mater. It's going to be an exciting year, and I can't wait to get started!"

A Charlotte native, Smith started the final nine games of App State's 2007 national championship run as a true freshman and had more than 120 tackles in each of his four college seasons, including two in which he earned All-America recognition. He finished his career with 50 straight starts and ranks second behind only Dexter Coakley on the career tackles list at Appalachian.

After being a sixth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2011, he made three starts in 16 games as a rookie and started six more games the following year. He totaled 82 tackles, two sacks and one interception with the Packers before spending time with the San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers from 2013-14.

Smith and Coakley are headliners on the list of talented linebackers who have played at Appalachian State. Kennan Gilchrist spent the 2017 season with the Houston Texans following a standout career as an outside linebacker with the Mountaineers.

A graduate of Independence High School in Charlotte, Smith is the son of Pamela Rice and Darryl Smith Sr. He has a son, Carter.

Tuesday, 06 February 2018 22:18

Appalachian State Wrestling Ranked 28th in Polls

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Five consecutive dual meet victories and an unbeaten conference record have helped Appalachian State's wrestling team climb to No. 28 in the latest USA Today/NWCA Coaches poll.

At 8-3 overall and 6-0 in the Southern Conference, App State had six voting points to rank third in the others receiving votes category. The Mountaineers are 11th nationally among schools that aren't members of a Power Five conference.

App State has won five straight dual meets since losing 19-13 at Oklahoma, which was ranked 20th at the time. The other losses have come against No. 6 NC State and No. 24 North Carolina.

The Mountaineers improved to 6-0 in the Southern Conference with an 18-16 win at Chattanooga, which led 16-12 before Randall Diabe and Cary Miller pulled out victories in the last two matches.

Appalachian plays host to Duke in a nonconference dual Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Varsity Gym and concludes its SoCon schedule with a dual at The Citadel on Feb. 18. The Mountaineers already have clinched at least a share of their third straight conference championship.

Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Ryan Crompton has been named the first AstroTurf South Atlantic Conference Men’s Lacrosse Defensive Player of the Week for the 2018 season, league officials announced earlier today.

Crompton, a senior goalkeeper from Frederick, Md., allowed just three goals while making four saves in Lenoir-Rhyne’s 18-7 victory over Young Harris in the season opener last Saturday at home.

Crompton is a 2018 All-South Atlantic Conference Preseason First-Team honoree whose ranks second all-time on the Bears’ career lists for saves (304) and goals-against average (9.49). Crompton also has a 25-10 all-time mark in goal and earned league player-of-the-week honors for the seventh time in his collegiate career.

Lincoln Memorial’s Adam Golia was named the AstroTurf South Atlantic Conference Men’s Lacrosse Offensive Player of the Week.

Lenoir-Rhyne (1-0), the seventh-ranked team in the nation, travels to Gaffney, S.C., to take on top-ranked Limestone on Saturday beginning at Noon. The Saints have won three of the past four national championships (2014, 2015 and 2017).

Due to inclement weather in the forecast for this upcoming weekend, the Catawba Valley Community College baseball team has moved up its 2018 season opener by two days.

The Red Hawks will now play the Piedmont International JV squad on Thursday and Friday at Henkel Alley Field at the Hickory American Legion Fairgrounds.

Thursday’s action will feature a pair of seven-inning games starting at 3 p.m., while Friday’s game will be a single nine-inning contest starting at 4 p.m.

For a complete look at the entire 2018 Catawba Valley baseball schedule, please visit www.gocvcc.com/sports/bsb/2017-18/schedule.

The Lenoir-Rhyne Softball Team (2-3), ranked No. 25 in NCAA Division II, suffered a 6-4 setback to Alabama-Huntsville (5-1) Sunday on the final day of the Gulf Coast Invitational at the Sportsplex.

Lenoir-Rhyne senior designated player Mackenzie Cates (Efland, N.C.) drove in the Bears’ lone run after walking with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning.

UAH was able to rally from a 3-0 deficit to take the victory. The Chargers took control with a five-run sixth inning highlighted by Kiara Akles’ (Heflin, Ala.) game-winning, run-scoring single. Akles finished with three hits to lead the Chargers.

The two teams combined for five errors while six of the game’s 10 runs were unearned.

Lenoir-Rhyne junior Brandi Parks (Roaring River, N.C.) fell to 1-2 after taking the loss while UAH’s Layton Murphy (Marbury, Ala.) (4-0) remained perfect on the year after going the distance.

The Bears split their two games against ranked teams at the tournament: defeating No. 11 Lee (3-2 in eight innings) before falling to No. 7 North Georgia by a 5-2 score.

Lenoir-Rhyne hosts Lees-McRae (Noon) and Virginia-Wise (2:00 p.m.) in the home opener on Saturday, February 10, as part of the third annual Bear Bash.

A memorable comeback at Chattanooga has propelled Appalachian State's wrestling team to another Southern Conference championship.

Match-ending wins from Randall Diabe and Cary Miller lifted App State to an 18-16 road victory that secures at least a share of a third straight SoCon title for the Mountaineers (8-3, 6-0). They face Duke at Varsity Gym on Thursday before wrapping up their SoCon schedule at The Citadel (1-9, 0-4) on Feb. 18.

"I'm so proud of our guys," App State coach JohnMark Bentley said. "It was a match that kind of went back and forth, back and forth. There were a lot of matches that I thought we were favored in that we came out on the short end, but we had some guys really step up, and I'd say their coaching staff would say the same.

"It was a great atmosphere here and a great dual. I can't say enough about our guys responding and finding a way to win when our back was against the wall."

An early pin against the reigning SoCon champion from redshirt freshman Codi Russell, a 7-4 decision from junior Angel Najar and a 4-2 decision via a sudden-victory takedown from senior Forrest Przybysz occurred before Chattanooga (6-7, 4-1) took a 16-12 lead into the final two matches.

Diabe claimed a 3-2 decision against Scottie Boykin at 197 pounds before Miller earned a 7-5 decision against Connor Talley in the heavyweight division to erase a 16-15 deficit.

Trailing 1-0 at the start of the third period, Diabe improved to 6-0 in SoCon dual meets by breaking a 1-1 tie on a takedown with 55 seconds left and defeating the 14th-ranked Boykin.

"Randall Diabe really just put the team on his back and found a way to get that done," Bentley said.

After Diabe's win, Miller improved to 16-7 overall and 5-1 in SoCon action by pulling out the clinching victory against Tolley. The match was tied at 3-3 after one period, but Miller had a decisive riding-time advantage when he took a 6-3 lead into the final period. Tolley used a late takedown to cut his deficit in half.

Early in the dual meet, App State took a 6-3 lead thanks to Russell's pin at 133 pounds. Russell trailed 4-1 against Chris Debien, the reigning SoCon champ at that weight, before surging ahead 7-4 and then pinning Debien at the 4:12 mark.

Najar trailed in his match at 157 pounds before delivering a takedown to claim a 5-4 edge entering the third period against Jake Adcock, and Najar increased his lead with a takedown in the final 10 seconds.

The Mountaineers were behind 13-9 when Przybysz took the mat at 174 against Justin Lampe, who suffered 2-0 and 1-0 losses in their head-to-head matchups at 165 last season.

Przybysz trailed 2-1 before tying the match with a second-period escape, and the score remained the same until he executed a sudden-victory takedown late in the first overtime period. The result was confirmed after a video review.

Przybysz joined Diabe and Najar in remaining unbeaten in SoCon duals. His close win helped the Mountaineers claim a second straight dramatic victory against the Mocs, who lost 17-16 in Boone via a secondary tiebreaker last year. Three of their last four dual meets have been decided by two points or less.

App State returns to action Thursday with its 6:30 p.m. nonconference dual against Duke.

Sunday, 04 February 2018 23:03

App State Women's Tennis Lose to Old Dominion

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Appalachian State University women's tennis (3-3) suffered a 6-1 decision to a tough Old Dominion (8-1) squad on Sunday afternoon at the Folkes Stevens Tennis Center.

The Monarchs would grab the doubles point and singles portion capturing five out of six matches.

Highlighting the day for the Black and Gold was María José Zacarias (San Luis Potosi, Mexico/La Loma Centro Deportivo) who earned a hard-fought three set victory over ODU's No. 1 in Holly Hutchinson. Hutchinson captured the first set, 6-0, before Zacarias stormed back to tie up the contest with a 6-0 win of her own. The freshman for App fought through in the third and deciding frame for a 7-5 triumph and end the day on a high note for a Mountaineers squad that finished the weekend at 1-1. Zacarias is the first student-athlete from an opposing team to claim a point on the Monarchs' court since they fell to Tennessee on Jan. 20.

App is already halfway over to its 2017 win total while it wouldn't pick up its third win of the season until Feb. 16.

App State continues its tough stretch of road matches next Saturday when it faces North Carolina State at 9 a.m. followed by a 1 p.m. match against Campbell. NC State will host both contests.

Sunday, 04 February 2018 22:58

Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Picks Up a Pair of Wins at

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The Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Team (3-0) blanked Southern Wesleyan, 4-0, and came back a few hours later to defeat Francis Marion by a 7-5 score on Saturday on the final day of the Carolinas Hospital System Classic at Sparrow Stadium.

Against, Southern Wesleyan, Lenoir-Rhyne senior pitcher Matt Sullivan (Bristol, Va.) (1-0) got the starting nod and was dominant, going seven innings while putting up a goose egg on the board with just three hits and one walk allowed in addition to seven strikeouts. LR senior Patrick Laganke (Raleigh, N.C.) and sophomore Brett Fulk (East Bend, N.C.) completed the shutout on the back end, giving up one more hit and fanning four in the process for the Bears.

At the plate, the Bears doubled their opponent in hits by an 8-4 count. Junior outfielder Justin Dean (Mauldin, S.C.) and sophomore second baseman Corbin Watson (Eden, N.C.) led the way with two hits each.

Lenoir-Rhyne senior outfielder Marcus Shoemaker (Colfax, N.C.) accounted for two of the team’s four runs batted in thanks to his first home run of the season, a shot over the right field wall in the fifth frame.

Against Francis Marion, the Bears used five pitchers with sophomore Nolan Flachofsky (Pfafftown, N.C.) (1-0) earning the victory in middle relief. Flachofsky retired all seven batters he faced. Lenoir-Rhyne senior Landon Whitson (Marion, N.C.) earned his second save in as many days, striking out the side in the ninth inning.

The Bears held a 10-4 advantage in hits with Dean and junior first baseman Alex Reynolds (Kings Mountain, N.C.) leading the way with three hits each.

Shoemaker and junior outfielder Aaron Stamper (Clemmons, N.C.) both drove in two runs for the Bears, who rallied from a 4-1 deficit to take the win.

Francis Marion’s William Robbins (Rock Hill, S.C.) hit a solo home run.

Dean went five-of-11 (.455) from the plate while the Bears’ pitchers have registered at least 11 strikeouts in all three games so far this year.

Lenoir-Rhyne will hit the road for a midweek doubleheader against Barton on Wednesday, February 7, at 1:00 p.m., at McCrary Park in Asheboro, N.C.

For the second straight day, the Lenoir-Rhyne Softball Team (2-2) split its two games Saturday at the Gulf Coast Invitational at the Sportsplex. LR beat Shorter by a 7-2 score before falling to No. 7 North Georgia, 5-2.
Against Shorter, Lenoir-Rhyne junior outfielder Erin Boone (Creedmoor, N.C.) hit a two-run home run while junior Emily Kenley (Charlotte, N.C.) (1-1) went the distance and picked up the complete game victory. Kenley struck out eight batters and held a shutout through the final inning.

For Shorter, Tiffany Holland (Chickamauga, Ga.) drove in both runs – unearned – in the bottom of the seventh while Hannah Draper (Trinity, Ala.) (0-1) took the setback.

In the game with North Georgia, the Nighthawks’ broke a two-all tie with three runs in the top of the seventh inning highlighted by Sydney Sprague’s (Columbus, Ga.) game-winning solo home run, her second of the contest.

Boone (two hits, run-scoring single) once again led the Bears’ offense. Junior Brandi Parks (Roaring River, N.C.) fell to 1-1 after taking the loss for the Bears. Parks struck out three and went the distance.

Lenoir-Rhyne went 1-1 over the weekend against ranked teams (the Bears defeated No. 11 Lee on Friday).

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