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After securing a third straight Sun Belt Conference football title in 2018 with a victory in the league's inaugural championship game, Appalachian State has been picked to win another Sun Belt championship in 2019.

A vote by league coaches in advance of Monday's Sun Belt Media Day in New Orleans tabbed App State the East Division favorite and Louisiana the West Division favorite. Those two programs met for the Sun Belt title last year, with the Mountaineers claiming a 30-19 victory in Boone, and Appalachian has been picked to repeat as the championship game winner.

The 2019 championship game will be held Dec. 7 at the home venue of the division winner with the highest winning percentage in conference play.

The Mountaineers are entering their first season under the direction of head coach Eliah Drinkwitz. Only five of the 22 primary offensive and defensive starters from a record-breaking 11-2 season in 2018 are gone, and the return of nine All-Sun Belt performers from last season has added to the excitement.

App State received 46 points and seven first-place votes to rank ahead of second-place Troy (39 points with one first-place vote) and Georgia Southern (35 points with two first-place votes) in the East Division poll. Coastal Carolina and Georgia State rounded out the East side. With 46 points and six first-place votes, Louisiana was picked to win the West Division ahead of Arkansas State (42 points with three first-place votes), ULM, South Alabama and Texas State.

App State will open the 2019 season with an Aug. 31 home game against East Tennessee State.

The rest of the home schedule at Kidd Brewer Stadium involves matchups in Boone with Charlotte (Sept. 7), Coastal Carolina (Sept. 28), ULM (Oct. 19), Georgia Southern (Thursday, Oct. 31) and Texas State (Nov. 23). The road games are at North Carolina (Sept. 21), Louisiana (Wednesday, Oct. 9), South Alabama (Oct. 26), South Carolina (Nov. 9), Georgia State (Nov. 16) and Troy (Friday, Nov. 29).

The Sun Belt Media Day is being held Monday in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Drinkwitz and two App State players (quarterback Zac Thomas, safety Josh Thomas) will participate in interviews throughout the day, as Monday's media schedule begins at 9:30 a.m. ET with Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill giving his "State of the Conference" address.

2019 Sun Belt Football Coaches Predicted Championship Game Winner
Appalachian State

2019 Sun Belt Football Coaches Predicted Order of Finish
First-place votes in parentheses

East Division
1. Appalachian State (7) - 46 pts
2. Troy (1) - 39 pts
3. Georgia Southern (2) - 35 pts
4. Coastal Carolina - 17 pts
5. Georgia State - 13 pts

West Division
1. Louisiana (6) - 46 pts
2. Arkansas State (3) - 42 pts
3. ULM - 27 pts
4. South Alabama (1) - 19 pts
5. Texas State - 16 pts

A pair of Hibriten players were on the East-West All Star Football game in Greensboro Wednesday night. Josh Baker and Marqwone Jones both represented the Panthers on the West squad roster. Baker started as a guard on the offensive line and Jones was a starting running back. He ended up with one carry for six yards. The East defeated the West 20-8.

Thursday, 18 July 2019 09:17

Hickory Crawdads Complete Sweep of Kannapolis

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The Hickory Crawdads defeated the Kannapolis Intimidators 7-5 on Wednesday night to finish off the three-game sweep.

The win puts the 'Dads in first place for the first time in the second half.

The Intimidators scored three runs in the top of the second inning off Crawdads lefty Grant Wolfram.

The 'Dads answered with a pair of runs to cut the score to 3-2. Miguel Aparicio walked and Jonathan Ornelas singled to put two runners on. Jonathan Ornelas hit a grounder that forced Whatley out at second but Aparicio came in to score.

Kannapolis got two more runs on the board in the fourth inning to pull ahead 5-2.

Miguel Aparicio hit his ninth homer of the season and second of the series to put the 'Dads within two runs.

The Crawdads completed the comeback in the sixth inning with four runs. Aparicio and Whatley hit consecutive singles and Jonathan Ornelas brought the first run in with a double. Two more runs came in on Frainyer Chavez's single. Pedro Gonzalez drew a walk and Josh Jung singled to load the bases. Tyreque Reed hit a sac fly to score a run and cap off the scoring for the inning.

The Crawdads return on Tuesday night to begin a seven game homestand. It is Dollar Dog Tuesday which means hot dogs are $1 thanks to Hebrew National and WHKY 1290AM and 102.3FM and fans can bring their dogs for $1 courtesy of Cody Law Firm. Craft pints will also be on sale for $2 thanks to Lowes Foods.

Appalachian State junior Darrynton Evans has been named a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented annually to the nation's best college running back.

Evans rushed for a league-leading 1,187 yards last season even though he didn't become App State's primary back until Game 5, and his nine touchdowns included a 100-yard kickoff return against Penn State. He averaged 6.6 yards per rush and totaled 1,764 all-purpose yards.

Evans extended App State's 1,000-yard rusher streak to seven consecutive years, the second-longest active streak in the nation, as a big-play threat who had six runs of 50-plus yards (No. 3 nationally) and 16 runs of 20-plus yards (No. 4 nationally).

The award is named for SMU's three-time All-America running back Doak Walker. It is the only major collegiate award that requires all candidates to be in good academic standing and on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification, and Evans was an Academic All-America nominee last season.

The PwC SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will name 10 semifinalists in November.

After reaching the Third Round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs last season, the Lenoir-Rhyne Football Team has been selected as the preseason No. 3 team according to the College Football America Yearbook. The Bears are coming off a 12-2 season that saw them post a perfect 7-0 record in SAC play.

Additionally, OL Jason Poe and punt returner Kyle Dugger were named to the CFAY's Preseason Starting Lineup, the organizations version of an All-American team. Poe is coming off an outstanding sophomore campaign that saw him bring home the Jacobs Blocking Trophy which is awarded to the best offensive lineman in the conference. Poe would go on to be named First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region and a Don Hansen Second Team All-American. Dugger proved to be one of the best returners in the nation, finishing second in the nation in punt return yardage (534) and third in punt returns for touchdowns (2). Dugger was named the National Special Teams Player of the Week when he became the first player in program history to return two punts for touchdowns in the same game in LR's 34-21 win over Newberry.

The 2019 College Football America Yearbook features more than 930 college football teams from the United States and Canada in more than 250 striking, full-color pages. That includes every team from the NCAA (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III), NAIA, NJCAA, CCCAA and U Sports (Canada). It also includes updates on club football, one-year postgraduate prep/sports academies and Mexican college football, along with dozens of action shots and stadium photos taken by the CFAY staff.

2019 College Football America Division II Preseason Top 30
1. Valdosta State
2. Ferris State
3. Lenoir-Rhyne
4. Notre Dame (OH)
5. Minnesota State
6. Ouachita Baptist
7. Northwest Missouri State
8. Slippery Rock
9. Colorado Mines
10. Minnesota Duluth
11. Grand Valley State
12. Indianapolis
13. Tarleton State
14. Fort Hays State
15. Wingate
16. Hillsdale
17. CSU-Pueblo
18. Harding
19. West Georgia
20. Midwestern State
21. New Haven
22. Texas A&M-Commerce
23. Azusa Pacific
24. West Alabama
25. Bowie State
26. Indiana (PA)
27. Fairmont State
28. Florida Tech
29. Kutztown
30. Virginia Union

2019 College Football America Division II Starting Lineup

Pos. Name School
WR SHANE ZYLSTRA Minnesota State
OL JASON POE Lenoir-Rhyne
C GRANT STEWART Colorado Mines

Pos. Name School
DL CHRIS GARRETT Concordia-St. Paul
DL HEATH WILLIAMS Saginaw Valley State
DB O'SHAY HARRIS Central Oklahoma

Pos. Name School
PK DANTE BROWN Fort Hays State

The North Carolina East-West All Star Games in Greensboro continued Tuesday with the women and men's soccer games.

In the women's soccer game, Lauren Hayes and Jess LaFrancis of Hickory competed along with Abby Walker of Fred T. Foard for the west squad who fell 3-2 to the East. Hayes and LaFrancis both started for the west squad, with LaFancis picking up an assist. Walker came on as a reserve and had two shots.

In the men's soccer game, Dillan Esperilla of Newton-Conover started for the west squad in their 1-0 win over the east.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019 08:54

Hickory Crawdads Defeat Kannapolis in 10 Innings

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The Crawdads rallied twice in the late innings to defeat the Kannapolis Intimidators 5-4 on Tuesday night. Pedro Gonzalez delivered the game-winning hit in the tenth inning.

The win gives the Crawdads the victory in the Battle of the Backroads season series. The Crawdads have won eight games to Kannapolis' six with one game left to play.

Abdiel Mendoza got the start for the 'Dads and delivered five scoreless innings, yielding just one hit.

The 'Dads got on the board in the bottom half of the inning to take a 1-0 lead. Jax Biggers started the rally off with a walk and stole his sixth base of the season to get in scoring position. Matt Whatley drove him in with a single to center.

Hever Bueno came into the game in relief of Mendoza and struck out the first three batters he faced.

In the bottom of the seventh the Crawdads extended their lead to two runs with a solo homerun by Ryan Anderson. The homer was Anderson's fourth of the season.

The Intimidators took the lead in the top of the ninth with a three-run homer off 'Dads reliever Kelvin Gonzalez.

In the bottom of the ninth, down to their last out, the Crawdads tied things up on Ryan Anderson's second homerun of the night.

Kannapolis brought the designated runner on second in to score and take a 4-3 lead in the tenth.

The 'Dads rallied to win the game in the bottom half of the inning. Matt Whatley hit a double to score Frainyer Chavez, who began the inning as the runner on second. Josh Jung was intentionally walked and Tyreque Reed worked the count to draw a walk and load the bases. Pedro Gonzalez hit a bloop to shallow right to score Whatley and send the 'Dads home with a 5-4 victory.

The Rangers first round draft pick this year and number 8 overall in the draft, Josh Jung made his Crawdads debut Tuesday, going 2-4 with a double. He also drew an intentional walk in the tenth inning.

The homestand wraps up tomorrow night as the Crawdads take on the identity of Las Llamas de Hickory presented by the Catawba County Partnership for Children and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The team will be celebrating Latin culture throughout the evening. A Wine and Design class will also be taking place on the picnic deck where fans can paint a sunset or llamas drinking wine. It is also Kids Win Wednesday sponsored by NC Pediatric Dentistry and Wine Wednesday presented by Catawba Farms and Carolina Vines.

The Catawba Valley Community College softball program has added two more players to their now 18-member first signing class in school history.

Payton Goble, a Bunker Hill High School graduate, is transferring to CVCC from fellow Region 10 member Surry, and the Red Hawks are also adding Gaffney High School product Tatum Arboleda.

Goble joins the Red Hawks after playing her freshman year at Surry Community College in Dobson, N.C. The pitcher and outfielder posted a great freshman season, pitching 81.1 innings with a team-best 3.70 ERA. Goble was also tied with most wins with an 8-5 record.

Also excelling at the plate, Goble posted a .363 batting average, scoring 27 runs and driving in 26 RBIs.

“Payton transferring in with a year of college experience is huge for our team,” said CVCC head softball coach Josh Bumgarner. “Her pitching and bat will be big for us this coming year.”

In high school, Goble was named all-conference, all-district and all-state three-straight years from 2016-18. During the 2017 season with the Bears, she was named the District 7 Player of the Year.

Goble posted a .468 career batting average while at Bunker Hill with 42 extra base hits, 47 RBIs and scoring 59 runs. In the circle, she recorded a 3.26 ERA with a 10-4 record in 101 innings pitched.

“I am excited about coming home to play softball and for this opportunity,” Goble said. “I can’t wait for it to start and to start winning.”

Arboleda comes to CVCC with a successful high school playing career. She played varsity softball at Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C. from 2015-18 before finishing her senior season at Gaffney High School.

Arboleda received all-region and all-state honors three times and helped lead her Byrnes teams to a state championship and runner-up finish during her eighth grade and freshman seasons.

She finished her high school career with a .436 batting average, 37 RBIs and 37 runs scored.

“I have played softball for so long and for it to not be over — this is another chance for me to continue in softball and achieve bigger things,” Arboleda said. “It is exciting to join the new softball team at CVCC. It gives us an opportunity to set a tone for the program.”

A utility player that can play catcher and middle infield, Arboleda also has the ability to pitch, tossing in 134 innings in high school with a 1.65 ERA, 95 strikeouts and a 18-4 record.

“Tatum plays multiple positions and that will give our line up options going forward,” Bumgarner said. “She has big game experience winning a state title in softball down in South Carolina, and we will use that experience as we build our program.”

Appalachian State's Zac Thomas is one of 30 players on the watch list for the Davey O'Brien Award, which is presented annually to the nation's best college quarterback.

Thomas is one of nine juniors and eight Group of Five conference quarterbacks on the list. Earlier this week, he was named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which is given to America's College Player of the Year,

Thomas' QBR of 79.8 in 2018 ranks ninth nationally among returning FBS quarterbacks. The Sun Belt's reigning Offensive Player of the Year, he completed his first season as an App State starter with 2,039 passing yards, 504 rushing yards and a combined 31 touchdowns (21 through the air).

Thomas recently served as a counselor at the prestigious Manning Passing Academy, where he placed second in the passing competition.

Sixteen O'Brien Award semifinalists will be named on Nov. 13, and the 2019 season marks the 13th year that fans will be invited to participate in the voting process on Results from the Davey O'Brien fan vote will be combined with the ballots from the Davey O'Brien National Selection Committee.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 12:12

Lenoir-Rhyne Announces 2018 Hall of Fame Class

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Lenoir-Rhyne University will add six members to its Sports Hall of Fame as Crystal Clary, Bill Davis, Audrey Kreske, Vernon Long, Tom Lumsden and Lauren (McLelland) Mauldin make up the Class of 2019.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be part of Lenoir-Rhyne's Homecoming Weekend and will take place in the P.E. Monroe Auditorium on LR's campus at 11:00 a.m., on Saturday, October 5, 2019.

The six will also be honored during Lenoir-Rhyne's Football game against UVA-Wise, which begins at 2:00 p.m., at Moretz Stadium.

"We are delighted to welcome these individuals to the Lenoir-Rhyne Sports Hall of Fame," said Lenoir-Rhyne Athletic Director Kim Pate. "These six honorees are some of the finest student-athletes to play here and represent a tremendous class. We look forward to honoring them this fall."

Crystal Clary (Basketball)
Despite playing in just two seasons for the Bears, Crystal Clary's name is all over the Lenoir-Rhyne Women's Basketball record book. Clary holds the all-time record for career field goal percentage (61.9) and rebounds per game (11.6). Playing from 2003-05, Clary averaged 18.8 points per game, which ranks third in team history, and her 1,055 career points places her 16th. Clary is fourth with 91 career blocks.

In 2003-04, Clary finished with 357 rebounds and a 65.6 field goal percentage which still stand as the highest marks in a single season in team history. That year, she was named to the All-Conference, All-Region and All-American teams, while also helping Lenoir-Rhyne to a South Atlantic Conference Championship.

*Due to a scheduling conflict, Clary will not be able to attend this year's ceremony and will be included in the 2020 Hall of Fame ceremony*

Bill Davis (Basketball/Track & Field)
Bill Davis is one of the finest dual-sport athletes to ever play at Lenoir-Rhyne. On the basketball court, Davis was a First Team All-Carolinas Conference performer, scoring 1,122 career points. A tremendous rebounder, Davis ranks second in team history with 11.3 rebounds per game and his 895 career rebounds places him fifth. In back-to-back seasons, Davis averaged 13.8 (1968-69) and 12.7 (1967-68) rebounds and he ranks 35th on the all-time scoring list.

On the track, Davis won both the Conference and Davidson Relays in the triple jump and set new meet records at both events. In the Carolinas Conference meet, Davis etched his name in the LR record books with a jump of 45'11" which stood for 41 years until broken in 2010.

Audrey Kreske (Softball)
Audrey Kreske was named to the All-Conference team in each of her four seasons at Lenoir-Rhyne and was twice named South Atlantic Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player. A dominating pitcher, Kreske threw a pair of no-hitters in the same season. A little over a month apart, Kreske kept both Pfeiffer and Lees-McRae out of the hit column and is one of four pitchers in team history to throw multiple no-hitters.

Kreske's 1.21 earned run average in 2001 ranks fifth in team history and she ranks in the top five in career appearance (111), starts (107), complete games (91), innings pitched (703), ERA (1.37), shutouts (29) and strikeouts (728) all while making the Commissioner's Honor Roll every year she played.

Vernon Long (Basketball)
Vernon Long's influence on Lenoir-Rhyne Basketball goes far beyond just his playing career and his impact reached outside the court. Long broke the color barrier at Lenoir-Rhyne, becoming the first African American to play for the Bears in the fall of 1968. During the Civil Rights Era, Long overcame many hurdles to enjoy an exceptional career.

On the court, Long poured in 1,253 career points which ranks him 23rd on the all-time scoring list despite playing in an era without a three-point line. Long remained in the school's top 10 all-time scorers 20 years after he graduated and led LR to 75 wins in his four years. In 1971-72, the Bears won the Carolinas Conference Championship and made the NAIA District 26 finals and came within a basket of making the National Tournament.

Tom Lumsden (Football)
A feared defensive lineman, Tom Lumsden was named Carolinas Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1970. The accolades didn't stop there for Lumsden who was a three-time All-Conference and All-District player and was twice named to the All-State team.

On top of his Player of the Year award in 1970, Lumsden earned Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American honors and was named the Hickory Quarterback Club's Best Defensive Player in the same year. That season, Lumsden had five fumble recoveries and scored a touchdown while being the team's co-captain. He was also selected as a Second Team All-American by the AFCA and helped LR to a 28-11 record during his career.

Lauren (McLelland) Mauldin (Volleyball)
Lauren Mauldin stands as the best setter in Lenoir-Rhyne Volleyball history as evidenced by her 5,558 career assists which are 1,777 more assists than anyone that has donned an LR uniform. Mauldin was the starting setter for the 2004 conference championship team, the first SAC Championship in program history. In total, Mauldin led the Bears to a pair of SAC titles and was named the league's Freshman of the Year in 2004 and Second Team All-Conference in 2006.

Mauldin owns the record for single-season assists (1,671), single-season assists per set (12.11) and career assists per set (10.98) on top of career assists.

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