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A sloppy start to the ballgame proved to be a winning ingredient for the Hickory Crawdads Friday night, as the 'Dads took advantage of a crucial error by Kannapolis in the 3rd inning to score the decisive runs in a 4-3 win over the Intimidators at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Crawdads entered the bottom of the 3rd trailing the Intimidators 2-1 before an RBI groundout by Eduard Pinto plated Eric Jenkins to tie the score at 2-2. That appeared to be how the inning would end as well but Kannapolis third baseman Cody Daily let Yeyson Yrizarri's ground ball to go through his legs, which allowed the 2 decisive unearned runs to score. Hickory reliever Joe Palumbo carried the load from there with 4 shutout frames to finish off the Hickory victory.

Both teams began the night with a sluggish start, including starting pitchers Dillon Tate and Zach Thompson. Tate immediately had his back against the wall when he allowed a leadoff single to Tyler Sullivan before walking both Johan Cruz and K.J. Woods to load the bases with nobody out. Tate was able to minimize the damage however when he traded a run for two outs on a 6-4-3 double play before he induced a groundout from Landon Lassiter to get out of the frame down 1-0.

The 'Dads responded with some help form Thompson in the bottom of the inning, when Jenkins and Josh Altmann both walked prior Tyler Sanchez getting hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. After a fielder's choice groundout by Pinto failed to plate a run, Thompson threw a wild pitch that brought Atlmann in for a 1-1 tie.

Kannapolis retook the advantage in the top of the 3rd, when Seby Zavala delivered a 2-out, RBI single to center off of Pedro Payano to put the visiting squad on top 2-1. Hickory responded with the biggest inning of the night in the home half however, as Jenkins walked, Frandy De La Rosa singled to left, and Altmann reach on an infield base knock to load the bases with nobody out. Pinto tied the score with an RBI groundout for the second out of the frame, before Yrizarri hit what should have been an inning ending groundball to third. The ball kicked through Daily's legs however, with the error allowing both De La Rosa and Altmann to score for a 4-2 Crawdads lead.

The Intimidators cut their deficit in half with a run in the 5th on a 2-out, RBI single to left off the bat of Antonio Rodriguez to make the score 4-3. Kannapolis then appeared to be on the verge of tying the score again in the 7th when Lassiter roped a double down the right field line that send Woods speeding around the bases from first. Woods was cut down at the plate however on a great relay from Sherman Lacrus in right to De La Rosa and finally to Sanchez at the plate to preserve the 'Dads one-run lead.

Palumbo would shut down the game from there with a scoreless 8th and a perfect 9th for the final 4-3 Crawdads win.

Payano (3-3) earned the win for the 'Dads after allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts in a rare relief appearance for the All-Star starter. Thompson (5-3) took the loss for the Intimidators with 4 runs given up, 2 earned, on 2 hits, 3 walks, and 3 Ks over his 3 innings of work. Palumbo (6) recorded the save after turning in the best pitching performance on the night with no runs allowed on 4 hits and 6 strikeouts over 4 IP.

Altmann finished the night 1-3 with a walk and 2 runs scored, Jenkins went 0-2 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored as well, and Lacrus ended the game 2-3 with a stolen base. Sanchez also had a good night with a double and a hit-by-pitch.

The Crawdads (4-5/42-37) will try to make it three straight wins over the Intimidators (4-5/28-51) Saturday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Appalachian State University football defensive back Latrell Gibbs (Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb) is academically ineligible to participate in the 2016 season, head coach Scott Satterfield announced on Friday.

Gibbs will not participate in any team activities with the Mountaineers in 2016.

“Academics will always be the first and foremost priority for our program,” Satterfield said. “Our hope is that Latrell will meet the standards that we expect of our student-athletes academically this coming semester and rejoin the team in January.”

The Hickory Crawdads received solid performances from both the pitching mound and batters box Thursday night, as 'Dads starting hurler Wes Benjamin struck out 8 over 6 strong frames while the Hickory hitters clubbed 12 hits in a 7-3 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Benjamin led the way for the Crawdads from the mound, as the southpaw hurler tied career-highs in both innings pitched (6) and strikeouts (8). The Illinois native received plenty of support from the 'Dads bats, which put up 2 runs in each of the first two frames before striking for 3 tallies to put the game away in the 7th.

The 1st inning surge began with the leadoff hitter for Hickory, as Eric Jenkins lined a triple to left-center field before coming in one batter later on an RBI hit from Josh Altmann that ricocheted off pitcher Johnathan Frebis' foot and into left field for a double. One out later, Tyler Sanchez lofted a broken bat, RBI single to left to put the Crawdads on top 2-0.

Hickory doubled their advantage to 4-0 in the 2nd, this time using some help from the Kannapolis defense to plate a pair of unearned runs. Ti'Quan Forbes started the rally with a one-out double to left before he advanced to third on a fielding error by Kannapolis shortstop Max Dutto that also allowed Connor McKay to reach. Forbes then scored and McKay advanced to third when first baseman K.J. Woods threw wildly to third on a pickoff throw for the Intimidators' second error of the inning. Sherman Lacrus then drove in the final run of the frame on an RBI sacrifice fly to put the 'Dads ahead by 4.

Fast-forward to the 5th, and the Crawdads pulled away with 3 more runs, 2 unearned, for a 7-0 lead. Jenkins once again got the offense started with a one-out walk followed by a line drive to left off the bat of Altmann that Kannapolis left fielder Landon Lassiter dropped for an error that allowed Jenkins to score all the way from first. Dylan Moore followed with a 2-run home run to left for his 6th long ball of the season and a 7-run Hickory advantage.

The Intimidators finally got on the board in the 6th, when Tyler Sullivan lined a 2-run homer off the right field foul pole to cut the score to 7-2. Kannapolis picked up one last run in the 8th on a walk to Lassiter and an RBI double off the center field fence by Woods to make the score 7-3. That would be as close as the visiting team would get however, as Crawdads reliever Emerson Martinez tossed a scoreless 9th to finish off the 7-3 Hickory victory.

Benjamin (3-4) earned the win for the 'Dads with 2 runs allowed on 6 hits, 0 walks, and 8 strikeouts over his 6 innings pitched. Frebis (5-7) took the loss for Kannapolis after giving up 7 runs, 3 earned, on 9 hits, 1 walk, and 1 K over his 5 IP.

7 of the 9 Hickory hitters picked up at least one hit while four batters collected a multi-hit game. Sanchez led the way with a 3-4 night including an RBI, Jenkins finished 2-3 with a triple, a walk, and two runs scored, and Moore ended the night 1-4 with a home run and 2 RBI.

The Crawdads (3-5/41-37) and Intimidators (4-4/28-50) will play again Friday night at 7:00 pm in game two of their 4-game series.

Hickory: 8
Taylorsville: 6

Caldwell vs. Henderson, rained out. Cancelled.

Five members of the Lenoir-Rhyne University Softball Team earned 2016 NCCSIA College Division All-State honors. NCCSIA is the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association.

Lenoir-Rhyne tied Wingate for the most all-state honorees with five members. Three Bears were named to the first team: sophomore shortstop Madison Carter (Bessemer City, N.C.), senior third baseman Jordin Phillips (Hampstead, N.C.) and freshman outfielder Erin Boone (Creedmoor, N.C.).

Carter, a First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference and All-Southeast Region honoree, finished third on the team in batting average (.379) to go along with four home runs, 47 runs batted in and a team-high 17 doubles this spring.

Phillips batted .352 with six home runs and led the conference in runs batted in (52) this year. Phillips was also an all-region and all-league honoree.

Boone led the SAC in batting average (.402) and ranked first on the team in numerous offensive categories including runs scored (62), hits (86), total bases (127) and slugging percentage (.593). Boone, a first-team all-conference and all-region pick as well, hit six home runs and was named the 2016 SAC Freshman Of The Year for her efforts.

Senior pitcher Maryann Hoskins (Havelock, N.C.) and sophomore outfielder Christina Walker (Roxboro, N.C.) were named to the all-state second team for the Bears. Hoskins was Lenoir-Rhyne’s top pitcher this season, finishing 19-7 with a 2.20 earned run average, 184 strikeouts and six shutouts. Walker, a first-team all-conference selection, batted .400 on the year with 44 runs scored and 10 stolen bases.

All five players led Lenoir-Rhyne to a 48-13 record including a 20-2 mark in South Atlantic Conference play this year. The Bears also captured the SAC Regular Season Championship and qualified for the NCAA Division II Southeast Region Tournament in Savannah, Ga.

Nominees were submitted by North Carolina sports information professionals and selected by the NCCSIA members.

Founded in 2002, the NCCSIA is comprised of sports information professionals from NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA and independent institutions from the state of North Carolina. The purpose of the organization is to promote collegiate athletics at all schools. Membership is open to anyone affiliated with a college, university or conference located in North Carolina, and whose area of responsibility lies within sports information.

NCCSIA selects all-state teams in the University (Division I) and College (Division II, III, NAIA) divisions for men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, softball, and baseball.

North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association

2016 College Division All-State Softball Teams

FIRST TEAM

P - Carley Tysinger, Sr., Catawba, Lexington, N.C.

P - Stacey Houser, Sr., Wingate, Mooresville, N.C.

C - Taylor Laskey, Sr., Wingate, Cherryville, N.C.

INF - Madison Carter, So., Lenoir-Rhyne, Bessemer City, N.C.

INF - Jordin Phillips, Sr., Lenoir-Rhyne, Hampstead, N.C.

INF - Tina White, Jr., Chowan, Whiteville, N.C.

INF - Lindsey Wiggins, Jr., William Peace, Durham, N.C.

OF - Erin Boone, Fr., Lenoir-Rhyne, Creedmoor, N.C.

OF - Kelsey Akers, Sr., Mount Olive, Burlington, N.C.

OF - Kristen Stinnard, Jr., Catawba, Concord, N.C.

UTIL - Mellena Helms, Sr., Wingate, Concord, N.C.

DP - Makayla Carver, Fr., Guilford, Granite Falls, N.C.

SECOND TEAM

P - Maryann Hoskins, Sr., Lenoir-Rhyne, Havelock, N.C.

P - Kayla Robins, Jr., Chowan, Mathews, Va.

C - Haley Cooper, Fr., Chowan, Hertford, N.C.

INF - Misty Doran, Jr., Wingate, Century, Fla.

INF - Gina Gerone, Sr., Catawba, Brooklyn, N.Y.

INF - Jamie Johnson, So., UNC Pembroke, Kenly, N.C.

INF - Caroline Womble, Sr., William Peace, Lillington, N.C.

OF - Kris Neal, Jr., Chowan, Clayton, N.C.

OF - Taylor Rosenbalm, Sr., Queens, Statesville, N.C.

OF - Christina Walker, So., Lenoir-Rhyne, Roxboro, N.C.

UTIL - Abbey Walters, Jr., UNC Pembroke, Bladenboro, N.C.

DP - Jordan Wilson, Sr., Wingate, Gastonia, N.C.

Caldwell County: 6
Burke County: 1

Hickory: 7
Haywood County: 1

Union County: 2
Maiden: 1

The Hickory Crawdads and Columbia Fireflies appeared to be in a pitcher's duel through the first two-thirds of the game Wednesday night before the contest pivoted on a pair of big home runs, as the Fireflies used a grand slam and a 3-run blast to pull away late and hand the 'Dads a 10-1 loss at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The two teams entered the 7th inning locked in a 1-1 tie, with a 1st inning, RBI single from Josh Altmann providing the Crawdads' run while a 3rd inning, RBI sacrifice fly from David Thompson plated the Fireflies' tally. The low-scoring contest was broken open in the 7th however when Columbia plated 6 runs on 4 hits, highlighted by a grand slam from catcher Patrick Mazeika. Columbia picked up a 3-run homer by Jeff Diehl two innings later to finish off the 10-1 score.

The game began with the 'Dads looking like they might pull away early, as Eric Jenkins led off the 1st inning with a bunt single, Frandy De La Rosa walked, and Altmann delivered an RBI single to left for a 1-0 Hickory lead. Dylan Moore then followed with a bunt single of his own to load the bases for the Crawdads with nobody out. Fireflies starting pitcher Chase Ingram was able to work his way out of the jam with no further damage however, with a strikeout of Ricky Valencia, a fielder's choice out at the plate off the bat of Eduard Pinto, and a swinging strikeout from Yeyson Yrizarri to strand three runners on base.

Columbia tied the score two innings later, when J.C Rodriguez tripled to right off of 'Dads starting pitcher Matt Ball before coming in to score on an RBI sacrifice fly from Thompson for a 1-1 game. The score would remain the same for the next 3 frames, as Ball allowed 1 run on 6 hits over his 5 innings pitched while Ingram countered with 1 run allowed on 4 hits during his 5 IP.

Hickory turned to the bullpen beginning in the 6th, when reliever Adam Choplick was able to work around a pair of walks for a scoreless inning. The tall lefthander then began the 7th with a strikeout of Enmanual Zabala before the next 6 batters would safely reach to power the Fireflies' 6-run rally. Rodriguez began the surge with a single, followed by a walk to Kevin Kaczmarski and an RBI base knock from Thompson for a 2-1 Columbia lead. Following a walk by Choplick to pinch-hitter Tyler Moore the Crawdads brought in right-handed hurler John Werner, who then allowed an RBI single from Diehl before Mazeika lined a grand slam over the right field fence to cap the big inning.

Two frames later the Fireflies got to Warner again, with a single from Thompson, a fielding error by Altmann at first base that allowed Moore to reach, and a 3-run homer to right off the bat of Diehl to give Columbia the 10-1 lead they would win by.

Choplick (2-1) took the loss for Hickory after allowing 4 runs on 2 hits, 4 walks, and 2 strikeouts over 1.1 innings pitched. Fireflies reliever Witt Haggard earned the win with 3 scoreless innings of relief on 1 hit, 1 walk, and 3 Ks.

Moore paced the 'Dads offensive attack on the night with a 1-2 game including 2 walks and 2 stolen bases, while Altmann finished the game 1-4 with an RBI and Jenkins went 1-4 with a steal and a run scored.

The Crawdads (2-5/40-37) will now welcome the Kannapolis Intimidators to town for a 4-game series beginning Thursday night at 7:00 pm.

The Hickory Crawdads emerged from a 2-game slate on Tuesday with one win and one loss, as the 'Dads defeated the visiting Columbia Fireflies 4-1 in the remainder of Monday's suspended game before dropping a slugfest in the second contest by a final score of 10-9 at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Crawdads and Fireflies began the day picking up where they left off on Monday night, with a 1-1 tie through 5 innings as a result of a rain suspended game. The 'Dads broke up the tie thanks to a pair of home runs by Frandy De La Rosa and Tyler Sanchez in the 8th, propelling the club to a 4-1 victory in the series opener. The second contest proved to be a wild back-and-forth affair that saw Hickory fall behind 5-0, rally for a 7-5 lead, fall into a 7-7 tie, and retake the advantage at 9-7, before ultimately falling 10-9.

Game one began on Monday night, with the contest starting at 8:06 pm following a one hour and six minute rain delay. The Crawdads struck first, with a solo homer by Josh Altmann in the 2nd giving the 'Dads a 1-0 lead. With the rain beginning to fall again in the top of the 5th, Fireflies' left fielder Joe Tuschak tied the score at 1-1 with a solo shot to right. The tarp was pulled following the bottom of the 5th and after a 28 minute delay the game was suspended.

Play resumed at 5:00 pm on Tuesday in the top of the 6th, and the score remained deadlocked until the bottom of the 8th when Hickory used a pair of home runs to take a 4-1 lead. De La Rosa led off the frame with a solo blast to right, his first home run since April 16th, before Sanchez followed later in the inning with a 2-run shot to left to give Hickory a 3-run advantage they would go on to win by.

Sanchez finished the game 2-4 with a home run and 2 RBI, while Altmann and De La Rosa both went 2-4 with a home run and 1 RBI.

Jonathan Hernandez (7-5) earned the win for the Crawdads in his first relief appearance of the year, as the regular starter entered the game when play resumed in the 6th and tossed 4 shutout innings on 1 hit and 6 strikeouts. Columbia reliever Johnny Magliozzi (2-3) took the loss after giving up 3 runs on 6 hits, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts over 3 IP.

The second game saw the Fireflies ambush 'Dads starting pitcher Peter Fairbanks for 1 run in the 1st and 4 in the 2nd to take a quick 5-0 lead. Fairbanks settled in from there however, with the 6'6" right-hander putting up scoreless frames in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th to buy time for the offense. The Hickory hitters got on the board in the 3rd when Connor McKay reached on a fielding error by Columbia pitcher Joe Shaw, stole second base, and scored on an RBI base knock to right from Yeyson Yrizarri to make the score 5-1.

The Crawdads then sliced the deficit down to 2 runs in the 4th when DH Ricky Valencia reached on a 2-out infield single before Dylan Moore crushed a 2-run homer to left to push the score to 5-3. Two innings later, the 'Dads erupted for 4 runs in the 6th to take their first lead of the night at 7-5. De La Rosa started the rally with a walk before advancing to second and third base on consecutive groundouts. Valencia then delivered the inning's first run on a 2-out, RBI single to right. Following a single by Moore, Ti'Quan Forbes drove in a tally with a hit to center before Chuck Moorman capped the frame with a 2-RBI double off the left field fence.

Columbia quickly responded with 2 runs on an RBI double by David Thompson and an RBI single from Dash Winningham in the top of the 7th to tie the game at 7-7. The Hickory offense kept the production line moving in the bottom of the frame however, as the 'Dads came back with 2-out, RBI singles from both Valencia and Moore to put the club ahead again with a 9-7 lead.

The Fireflies proved to have one more surge in them though, as Thompson once again came through for the visiting team with a 2-out, 3-run home run in the top of the 8th to catapult Columbia to a 10-9 lead. The Crawdads attempted one last rally in the bottom of the 9th when Altmann walked, Valencia lined a double to left, and Moore was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out for Forbes. Fireflies closer Alex Palsha was able to escape the jam however when Forbes grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that ended the game with a 10-9 'Dads defeat.

Moore led the Crawdads offense with a 3-4 game including his 5th home run of the year, 3 RBI, and 2 runs scored. Valencia finished 4-5 with a double, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored, while Yrizarri went 3-5 with an RBI.

Hickory reliever Omarlin Lopez (4-3) took the loss after allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts over 2 innings pitched. Craig Massigman (1-1) earned the win for Columbia despite giving up 2 runs on 5 hits, 1 walk, and 1 K over his 2 IP, while Palsha improved to a perfect 12/12 in save situations after emerging from the 9th.

The Crawdads (2-4/40-36) and Fireflies (1-5/37-39) will play the rubber match of the 3-game series Wednesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Appalachian State University athletics unveiled its 2016 Hall of Fame class on Tuesday, June 28. Football teammates Kerry Brown (2004-07) and Julian Rauch (2004-07), baseball star Randy Ingram (1975-78), wrestling letterwinner and head coach Paul Mance (student-athlete - 1966-69; head coach - 1976-2009) and cheerleader Lori Ransome Harper (1985-89), have been selected for induction to the Appalachian State Athletics Hall of Fame this fall. Additionally, longtime “Voice of the Mountaineers” David Jackson has been selected as the Appalachian State Former Athletes Association’s Special Service Award winner.

Appalachian State athletics’ 42nd Hall of Fame induction will be held in conjunction with the Mountaineers’ 2016 football home-opener versus Old Dominion on Sept. 10.

Festivities begin with Appalachian State’s annual Hall of Fame breakfast, which will be held at 9 a.m. in the Holmes Convocation Center. Tickets cost just $25 per person and can be purchased by calling Yosef Club donor relations coordinator Natalie Harkey at (828) 262-3108.

Additionally, the inductees will be recognized during halftime of that day’s football contest versus ODU at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The game time will be announced in the coming weeks.

The only way to secure a reserved seat for Hall of Fame Day is to purchase 2016 Appalachian State football season tickets. Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at appstatesports.com/tickets or by phone at (828) 262-2079.

KERRY BROWN (football — 2004-07): Two-time consensus first-team All-American ... two-time winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy (Southern Conference Lineman of the Year) ... three-time first-team all-conference honoree ... made 46-consecutive starts at left guard, including starting all 45 games during Appalachian State’s run of three-consecutive NCAA Division I-AA/FCS national championships from 2005-07 ... was part of a unit that paved the way for running back Kevin Richardson to become Appalachian State’s all-time leading rusher with 4,804 career yards ... in his three years as a full-time starter, Appalachian State rushed for 10,838 yards and surrendered only 51 sacks in 45 games.

RANDY INGRAM (baseball — 1975-78): The only four-time first-team all-conference performer in Appalachian State baseball history ... earned first-team all-Southern Conference recognition as a third baseman from 1975-78 ... was also a three-time first-team all-region honoree and three-time first-team all-state selection ... ranks among Appalachian State’s all-time leaders in batting average (eighth — .370), slugging percentage (eighth — .595), runs batted in (ninth — 131) and triples (tied for sixth — 10) ... compiled two of the top 10 single-season batting averages in school history — .416 as a junior in 1977 (ninth) and .427 as a senior in 1978 (fourth) ... two-time team MVP.

PAUL MANCE (wrestling — student-athlete - 1966-69; head coach - 1976-2009): Helped lead Appalachian State to a 37-7-2 team record as a four-year letterwinner as a Mountaineer from 1966-69 ... as a junior in 1967-68 helped Appalachian set a national record with 407 points in just 14 matches ... serving as team captain, helped lead Mountaineers to an 11-1 record as a senior in 1968-69 ... named the program’s Lloyd Hobbs Most Dedicated Wrestler following senior campaign ... named Appalachian State’s head coach in 1976 ... compiled a 348-218-10 record in 33 years as head coach ... winningest coach in Appalachian State wrestling history .. led the Mountaineers to 13 Southern Conference championships ... coached 79 individual conference champions, five SoCon Wrestlers of the Year and two NCAA Division I All-Americans ... inducted into the North Carolina Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2008 ... presented with Lifetime of Service to Wrestling Award during National Wrestling Hall of Fame induction.

LORI RANSOME HARPER (cheerleading — 1985-89): First cheerleader selected for induction to Appalachian State Athletics Hall of Fame ... four-year member of varsity squad ... helped lead team to four-straight Southern Conference championships and two Universal Cheerleaders Association national titles in 1986 and 1989 ... teamed with Danny Black to win the first-ever UCA National Partner Stunt national championship ... served as team captain as a senior.

JULIAN RAUCH (football — 2004-07): Two-time first-team all-Southern Conference honoree ... named second-team all-America by The Sports Network as a senior ... remains Appalachian State’s all-time leader in kick scoring (373 career points) and ranks third in school history in overall scoring ... is also Appalachian State’s all-time leader with 247 career extra points and holds the school’s longest streak with 111-consecutive extra points made ... ranks second in school history with 42 career field goals and fifth in the program’s all-time annals with a .688 career field-goal percentage ... his 17 field goals as a senior in 2007 are tied for the third-most in a single-season in school history while his .810 field-goal percentage is the Mountaineers’ third-best single-season mark of all-time ... cemented a spot in college football history when he made a 24-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining that proved to be the winning points in Appalachian State’s 31-29 victory over No. 5 Michigan on Sept. 1, 2007 ... helped lead Appalachian to three NCAA Division I-AA/FCS national championships and three Southern Conference titles (2005-07).

DAVID JACKSON (“Voice of the Mountaineers” — 2000-15): The play-by-play voice of Appalachian State football, men’s basketball and baseball radio broadcasts from 2000-15 ... also served as an athletics administrator at Appalachian State for 15 years, including 11 years as an associate athletics director ... a two-time North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year (2007 and 2012) ... member of the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association’s Board of Directors.

Appalachian State University men’s soccer head coach Jason O’Keefe announced the 2016 schedule on Tuesday, his first official slate of matches at the helm of the program.

The schedule features five home matches and is highlighted by matchups with nine top 100 teams from 2015 and three in the top 25, including traveling to take on last year’s top-ranked Wake Forest on Sept. 6. The Demon Deacons made it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Championship before falling 2-1 to Stanford. The Mountaineers have faced Wake Forest 23 times with the most recent coming in a 4-0 loss in 2012.

Appalachian will also welcome top-25 program Coastal Carolina to the Sun Belt Conference in the fourth-ever meeting between the two teams on Oct. 19. The Chanticleers finished No. 21 in the nation and fell in the NCAA tournament to the then-ranked No. 6 North Carolina Tar Heels, 2-1, in the second round. The Mountaineers will also travel two hours to play Charlotte, who finished last year ranked 25th nationally, on Nov. 1.

“We’re really excited about the schedule that we’ve put together,” O’Keefe said. “It’s a good balance of some top teams in the country and then some regional rivalries as well. With nine of the top 100 from last year and five 2015 NCAA tournament teams, we’re going to need a kind of road warrior mentality which will hopefully give us a more battle-tested makeup once we get into conference play.”

After a Black and Gold Scrimmage and two exhibition matches, the Mountaineers kick off the 2016 season on a five-match road trip that begins in Ohio on Aug. 26 against Cincinnati. Appalachian then moves in-state to play Bowling Green two days later before heading back to the southeast to play former Southern Conference foe ETSU on Sept. 3. The road trip will end after facing Wake Forest when App State takes on Marshall on Sept. 10.

The regular-season home opener comes on Sept. 13 against USC Upstate. The Mountaineers are 34-11-3 in home-openers. With a short one-off travel game against Longwood on Sept. 17, Appalachian State returns home to face Winthrop on Sept. 20. Appalachian’s first back-to-back homestand will come in October after traveling to Davidson (Sept. 24) and UNC Asheville (Sept. 27), when the Black and Gold take on Presbyterian on Oct. 4 and face Howard, their first Sun Belt Conference opponent of the season, on Oct. 8.

“Being able to go up against two-time defending Sun Belt champion Hartwick and now adding the excellent, top-25 program Coastal Carolina really shows you how competitive our league is,” O’Keefe continued. “The Sun Belt is a league where you can’t take a night off and we’re excited to see how we stack up with the best. Our schedule provides a really great opportunity for us to see where we’re at and how we’ve grown since last year.”

In a rematch of the 2015 Sun Belt Championship semifinal, App State will travel to take on Hartwick on Oct. 15. Then-No. 1 seed Hartwick took on then-No. 4 seed Appalachian in a wild contest that featured two yellow cards and a standing-room-only crowd in Boone, N.C. The Hawks would find the back of the net in the 67th minute and go on to win 1-0, but not before a rivalry was born between the two teams.

The Mountaineers round out the year with a four-match road trip that begins in Atlanta, Ga. against Georgia State (Oct. 22) before heading to Campbell (Oct. 25), Charlotte and longtime rival Georgia Southern (Nov. 5) for the season finale before the 2016 Sun Belt Championship takes place on Nov. 10-13 in Atlanta, Ga.

2016 APPALACHIAN STATE MEN’S SOCCER SCHEDULE

Aug. 12 - Black vs. Gold (Exhibition) - Boone, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Aug. 16 - Wofford (Exhibition) - Boone, N.C. - 6 p.m.
Aug. 20 - at High Point (Exhibition) - High Point, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 - at Cincinnati - Cincinnati, Ohio - 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 - at Bowling Green - Bowling Green, Ohio - 12 p.m.
Sept. 3 - at ETSU - Johnson City, Tenn. - 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 - at Wake Forest - Winston-Salem, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 - at Marshall - Huntington, W.Va. - TBD
Sept. 13 - USC Upstate - Boone, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 - at Longwood - Farmville, Va. - 6 p.m.
Sept. 20 - Winthrop - Boone, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 - at Davidson - Davidson, N.C. - 6 p.m.
Sept. 27 - at UNC Asheville - Asheville, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 - Presbyterian - Boone, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 - Howard* - Boone, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 - at Hartwick* - Oneonta, N.Y. - 2 p.m.
Oct. 19 - Coastal Carolina* - Boone, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Oct. 22 - at Georgia State* - Atlanta, Ga. - 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 - at Campbell - Buies Creek, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 - at Charlotte - Charlotte, N.C. - 7 p.m.
Nov. 5 - at Georgia Southern* - Statesboro, Ga. - 7 p.m.
Nov. 10-13 - Sun Belt Championship - Atlanta, Ga. - TBD
Nov. 16-17 - NCAA First Round - TBD - TBD
* Denotes Sun Belt Opponent

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