Appalachian State University softball was picked to finish ninth in its inaugural season in the Sun Belt Conference as selected by the conference coaches and announced by the league on Wednesday.
“This is definitely not where we want to be, but it’s great motivation for our team and program,” said head coach Janice Savage. “This does not define who we are or where we want to go, but we will use it to motivate us to always work toward improvement. This might be where we are starting, but it is not the place we want to finish.”
Last year’s tournament champion and preseason No. 9 ranked team in the country, UL Lafayette, received seven first-place votes and was picked to finish atop of the league with 79 points.
South Alabama, ranked preseason No. 23, received two-first place votes and was selected to finish second in the conference with 74 points.
Georgia State was picked to finish third with 57 points just ahead of both Texas State (48 points) and rival Georgia Southern (44 points). Troy came in at sixth, followed by UL Monroe, UT Arlington and Appalachian State.
App State brings back many key players for the 2015 season, including four Southern Conference all-league honorees. Dani Heichen (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Pembroke Pines Charter) and Cynthia Gomez (Oxnard, Calif./Pacifica) received first-team recognition, while Sarah Warnock (Jamestown, N.C./Southwest Guilford) was named to the second-team and Cara Parker (Lake Park, Ga./Lowndes) earned all-freshman team honors. The Apps return seven starters from a season ago, including 15 letterwinners. The Mountaineers also welcome six newcomers.
Appalachian State will open its season on Friday, Feb. 6 against UAB at the Plainsman Invite in Auburn, Ala. First pitch is slated for 4:45 p.m. from Jane B. Moore Field on the campus of Auburn University.
2015 Sun Belt Conference Softball Preseason Poll (First-Place Votes)
1. UL Lafayette (7) 79 pts
2. South Alabama (2) 74 pts
3. Georgia State 57 pts
4. Texas State 48 pts
5. Georgia Southern 44 pts
6. Troy 37 pts
7. UL Monroe 27 pts
8. UT Arlington 24 pts
9. Appalachian State 15 pts
The Lenoir-Rhyne baseball team has been chosen to finish eighth in the South Atlantic Conference preseason coach's poll. L-R finished last season on a nine game winning streak. In addition, two Bears were named to the preseason all-conference team. Receiving first team honors were second baseman Brantley Rumford and outfielder Ivan Vieitez.
Catawba has been chosen first in the South Atlantic Conference's baseball annual preseason poll, as voted by the League's head coaches, it was announced today by the League office. The Catawba Indians picked up nine first-place votes from the panel and 119 points.
Wingate finished second in the poll as the Bulldogs notched one top-bid and 109 points. Tusculum finished up the top three with one first-place vote and 95 points. Newberry landed at No. 4 with 94 points, while Lincoln Memorial picked up 93 points to place fifth in the poll. At No. 6 was Carson-Newman, who notched 72 points. Anderson came in seventh with 58 points, ahead of Lenoir-Rhyne, who notched 57 points. Mars Hill took the No. 9 slot as it posted 49 points. Coker (45 points) and Brevard (34 points) rounded out the poll.
The South Atlantic Conference also announced its preseason All-SAC teams on Wednesday. In the infield, Wingate's Josh Clark was named first-team catcher, while Steven Cooper of Anderson earned first-team honors at first base. At short stop was Craig Brooks from Catawba. Albert Baur from Newberry rounded out the list of first-team infield honorees at third base.
The first-team outfield was made up by Vieitez from Lenoir-Rhyne, Carson-Newman's Bo Ausmus and Thomas Spitz from Wingate.
Craig Brooks of Catawba, the 2014 South Atlantic Conference Pitcher of the Year, headlined the trio of first-team starting pitchers. Shaefer Shepard from Catawba also earned a bid to the first-team after being named the 2014 SAC Freshman of the Year. Newberry's Wesley Camp finished up the list of first-team starting pitchers.
Catawba's Ryan McClintock was voted the first-team relief pitcher, while teammate T.J. Wharton was named the first-team designated hitter.
The South Atlantic Conference baseball season gets underway on Friday, Jan. 30. The 2015 South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship will take place April 23-27 at McNair Field in Forest City, N.C.
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Catawba (9) 119
2. Wingate (1) 109
3. Tusculum (1) 95
4. Newberry 94
5. Lincoln Memorial 93
6. Carson-Newman 72
7. Anderson 58
8. Lenoir-Rhyne 57
9. Mars Hill 49
10. Coker 45
11. Brevard 34
All-SAC First Team
C – Josh Clark, Wingate
1B – Steven Cooper, Anderson
2B – Brantley Rumford, Lenoir-Rhyne
SS – Craig Brooks, Catawba
3B – Albert Baur, Newberry
OF – Ivan Vieitez, Lenoir-Rhyne
OF – Bo Ausmus, Carson-Newman
OF – Thomas Spitz, Wingate
DH – T.J. Wharton, Catawba
SP – Craig Brooks, Catawba
SP – Wesley Camp, Newberry
SP – Shaefer Shepard, Catawba
RP – Ryan McClintock, Catawba
All-SAC Second Team
C – Kyle Floyd, Lincoln Memorial
1B – Kelvin Brito, Lincoln Memorial
2B – Vinny Ferrara, Tusculum
2B – Jean Rodriguez, Lincoln Memorial
SS – Evan Rogers, Mars Hill
3B – John Topoleski, Tusculum
OF – Blake Houston, Catawba
OF – Alex Kirby, Newberry
OF – Johnathan Lowe, Lincoln Memorial
DH – Cody Andreychuk, Tusculum
SP – Cole Cromer, Newberry
SP – Caleb Edwards, Mars Hill
SP – Brandon Donahue, Wingate
RP – Daniel Nations, Newberry
Alexander Central: 60
North Lincoln: 35
St. Stephens: 55
South Caldwell: 50
South Mountain Athletic:
Kings Mountain: 64
East Burke: 45
Southern District 7:
West Caldwell: 32
Bunker Hill: 48
West Lincoln: 30
Alexander Central: 58
North Lincoln: 45
St. Stephens: 49
South Caldwell: 41
South Mountain Athletic:
East Burke: 61
Kings Mountain: 55
Southern District 7:
Bunker Hill: 70
West Lincoln: 59
West Caldwell: 74
Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Joe Ray and Tanner Botts have been named 2014 First-Team All-Americans by D2Football.com.
Ray, a junior offensive lineman from Atlanta, Ga., has been named to his fourth All-American Team this year: Associated Press Little, Daktronics and Beyond Sports Network were the others.
Ray anchored an offensive line which set an all-time NCAA Division II rushing record for a single season this year (416.2 ypg).
In addition, Ray won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy for the second straight year in 2014. The award is given annually to the top offensive lineman in the South Atlantic Conference.
Ray is also a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award, given every year to the top offensive or defensive lineman in NCAA Division II.
Ray, a two-time All-American, was part of a unit which paved the way for the Bears to rush for an NCAA all-time single-season record of 5,563 yards in 2013 en route to a berth in the national championship game.
Botts, a senior linebacker from Lawrenceville, Ga., has been named to his fifth All-American Team in 2014 which also includes the AP, BSN, Daktronics and the American Football Coaches Association squads.
Botts finished with a team-leading 89 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one fumble recovery this year and was named the 2014 South Atlantic Conference and Super Region II Defensive Player Of The Year.
For his Lenoir-Rhyne career, Botts totaled 385 tackles, nine sacks, seven forced fumbles and three interceptions and was a three-time First-Team All-SAC performer (2012-14) and a 2013 All-American.
The duo helped lead the Bears to an 11-1 record and a No. 8 final national ranking. Lenoir-Rhyne also won its fourth consecutive South Atlantic Conference Regular Season Championship this fall and earned the top seed in Super Region II for the second consecutive season.
D2Football.com has named an All-America Team since its inception in 2000. The D2Football.com All-America Team was selected by the staff of D2Football.com with input from coaches, scouts, media members, and sports information directors from around the country.
All-American First Team
QB - Jason Vander Laan, 6-4, 240, Jr., Ferris State
RB - Terrell Watson, 6-2, 240, Sr., Azusa Pacific
RB - Anthony Bilal, 5-7, 170, Jr., Lake Erie
WR - Darius Davis, 5-11, 210, Sr., Henderson State
WR - Vernon Johnson, 6-1, 190, Sr., Texas A&M-Commerce
TE - Tim Brown, 6-3, 235, Jr., West Chester
OL - Cole Manhart, 6-6, 310, Sr., Nebraska-Kearney
OL - Joe Ray, 6-1, 270, Jr., Lenoir-Rhyne
OL - Doniel Gambrell, Jr., 6-6, 315, Sr., Notre Dame (Ohio)
OL - Chris Reed, 6-5, 300, Sr., Minnesota State
OL - Travis Hening, 6-5, 305, Jr., East Central
DL - Darius Allen, 6-4, 250, Sr., CSU-Pueblo
DL - Matt Longacre, 6-3, 270, Sr., Northwest Missouri
DL - Josh Gordon, 6-2, 250, Jr., Minnesota State
DL - Julian Howsare, 6-3, 255, Sr., Clarion
LB - Justin Shirk, 6-0, 240, Sr., Bloomsburg
LB - Tanner Botts, 6-2, 215, Sr., Lenoir-Rhyne
LB - Tyler Henderson, 6-3, 235, Jr., Minnesota State
DB - Al-Hajj Shabazz, 6-2, 200, Sr., West Chester
DB - Solomon St. Pierre, 5-11, 170, Jr., Sioux Falls
DB - Will Brown, 6-1, 190, Sr., Missouri S&T
DB - Michael Jordan, 6-0, 200, Jr., Missouri Western
K - Tom Obarski, 5-11, 185, Sr., Concordia St.-Paul
P - Patrick Carney, 6-0, 215, Sr., New Mexico Highlands
AP - Dimitri Holmes, 5-10, 165, Sr., Mars Hill
National Players Of The Year
Offense - Terrell Watson, Azusa Pacific
Defense - Darius Allen, CSU-Pueblo
Coach Of The Year - John Wristen, CSU-Pueblo
Queens has been chosen first in the South Atlantic Conference's women's lacrosse annual preseason poll, as voted by the League's head coaches, it was announced today by the League office. The Royals picked up eight first-place votes from the panel and 72 points.
Lenoir-Rhyne came in at the No. 2 slot with one first-place vote and 65 points. Newberry claimed the No. 3 position with 55 points, ahead of Catawba, who posted 53 points. Wingate finished fifth in the poll with 42 points, while Coker landed at No. 6 with 36 points. Tusculum's 25 points was good for No. 7 and Brevard finished at No. 8 with 24 points. Lincoln Memorial rounds out the poll with 23 points.
The first-team preseason All-South Atlantic Conference attackers are highlighted by the 2015 SAC Co-Player of the Year Jena Ready of Queens. Teammate Abigail Paulus, Lauren Donovan from Lenoir-Rhyne and Noelle Allen from Newberry joined Ready on the list of first-team attackers.
Queens University posted a pair of players at the first-team midfielder position in Kelly Dowd and Brittany Larranaga. Claire Wach of Lenoir-Rhyne and Mackenzie Baker from Coker were also tabbed first-team midfielders.
Aairka Kaester from Queens and teammate Bridgette Larranaga each posted preseason first-team defender honors, while Jamie Ryan from Lenoir-Rhyne and Kaitlyn Kimball of Coker also earned first-team defender plaudits.
Bethany Davis of Catawba finished up the list of preseason first-team honorees as she was named the first-team goalkeeper.
The 2015 South Atlantic Conference Women's Lacrosse schedule is set to get under on Friday, Feb. 6. The 2015 South Atlantic Conference Women's Lacrosse Championship is slated for April 14, 17 and 18 with quarterfinals at campus sites and the semifinals and finals at Queens University.
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Queens (8) 72
2. Lenoir-Rhyne (1) 65
3. Newberry 55
4. Catawba 53
5. Wingate 42
6. Coker 36
7. Tusculum 25
8. Brevard 24
9. Lincoln Memorial 23
All-SAC First Team – Women's Lacrosse
A- Jena Ready, Queens
A- Abigail Paulus, Queens
A- Lauren Donovan, Lenoir-Rhyne
A- Noelle Allen, Newberry
MF- Claire Wach, Lenoir-Rhyne
MF- Kelly Dowd, Queens
MF- Brittany Larranaga, Queens
MF- Mackenzie Baker, Coker
D- Aarika Kaester, Queens
D- Bridgette Larranaga, Queens
D- Jamie Ryan, Lenoir-Rhyne
D- Kaitlyn Kimball, Coker
GK- Bethany Davis, Catawba
All-SAC Second Team
A- Maggie Masters, Queens
A- Alyssa Corace, Catawba
A- Kelsie Swanson, Lenoir-Rhyne
A – Meredith Jones, Catawba
MF- Logan Bounds, Wingate
MF- Kirsten Smith, Lenoir-Rhyne
MF- Laura Swanson, Wingate
MF- Sarah Gioconda, Lenoir-Rhyne
D- Sydney Dishman, Queens
D- Kourtney Jones, Catawba
D – Katie Thompson, Newberry
GK- Danielle Horoschak, Queens
Queens has been chosen first in the South Atlantic Conference's men's lacrosse annual preseason poll, as voted by the League's head coaches, it was announced today by the League office. The Royals picked up eight first-place votes from the panel and 72 points.
Lenoir-Rhyne came in at the No. 2 slot with one first-place vote and 64 points. Mars Hill claimed the No. 3 position with 55 points, ahead of Wingate, who finished fourth in the poll with 48 points. Coker landed at No. 5 with 46 points, while Catawba's 42 points was good for No. 7. Brevard finished at No. 8 with 25 points and Lincoln Memorial rounded out the poll with 16 points.
Queen's Garrett Chan, the 2014 South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, headlines the 2015 preseason All-South Atlantic Conference first-team. Teammate Casey Hock and Jimmy McBride of Mars Hill joined Chan as the preseason All-SAC first-team attackers.
At the midfield position, Evan Farkas of Queens, Anthony Malcom from Mars Hill and Wingate's Cory Shumacher each earned first-team preseason honors.
Tim Cloud of Queens was tabbed the preseason first-team long pole midfielder, while Tusculm's Mitch Chapman, Stephen O'Hara from Lenoir-Rhyne and Patrick Thomas of Queens picked up preseason first-team defender honors.
Queens' Kenneth Stryker was the preseason first-team specialist and teammate Eric Dolan was tabbed the first-team goalkeeper.
The 2015 South Atlantic Conference Men's Lacrosse schedule is set to get under on Saturday, Feb. 7. The 2015 South Atlantic Conference Men's Lacrosse Championship is slated for April 13, 16 and 18 with quarterfinals at campus sites and the semifinals and finals at Queens University.
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Queens (8) 72
2. Lenoir-Rhyne (1) 64
3. Mars Hill 55
4. Wingate 48
5. Coker 46
6. Catawba 42
7. Tusculum 28
8. Brevard 25
9. Lincoln Memorial 16
All-SAC First Team – Men's Lacrosse
A- Garrett Chan, Queens
A- Casey Hock, Queens
A- Jimmy McBride, Mars Hill
MF- Evan Farkas, Queens
MF- Anthony Malcom, Mars Hill
MF- Cory Schumacher, Wingate
Long Pole MF- Tim Cloud, Queens
D- Mitch Chapman, Tusculum
D- Stephen O'Hara, Lenoir-Rhyne
D- Patrick Thomas, Queens
Spec.- Kenneth Stryker, Queens
GK- Eric Dolan, Queens
All-SAC Second Team
A- Austin Murphy, Wingate
A- Jay Goldsmith, Lenoir-Rhyne
A- Ned Kaish, Lenoir-Rhyne
MF- Mike Martiello, Coker
MF- Ryan Sage, Mars Hill
MF- Chase Watts, Wingate
Long Pole MF- Tanner Leach, Mars Hill
D- Drew Thompson, Wingate
D- Mike Dorcy, Lenoir-Rhyne
D- Dylan Marks, Coker
Spec.- Daniel Rew, Catawba
GK- Alex Squires, Lenoir-Rhyne
A late night fire in Lenoir claimed a man’s life. Firefighters responded to the home on Grove Avenue between 11 p.m. and midnight Monday night. Officials remained at the scene overnight.Firefighters said one woman was able to escape the home but a man died after firefighters were able to get into the home to pull him out.Several departments responded to the scene. Fire chief Ken Briscoe told WHKY’s Fentress Chestnut in addition to the one fatality, a firefighter was also injured in the rescue effort. Those injuries, which were reported to be minor, occurred when the firefighter slipped on a ladder.
The Hickory Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously on Monday night to hire Allen Robinson Wittenberg as the head football coach at Hickory High School.
Wittenberg, 41, a native of Hickory and a graduate of Hickory High, will begin his new role at HHS before the end of February, 2015. Wittenberg, who has 19 years of experience as a NC teacher and coach, currently serves as the head football coach at Jimmy C. Draughn High School in Burke County.
Prior to serving as the head coach at Draughn, Wittenberg was the assistant football coach and defensive coordinator for two seasons at Robert L. Patton High School in Burke County.
No stranger to Hickory High School, where he once roamed the halls as a student and played offensive lineman at the Frank Barger Football Stadium, Wittenberg served as a HHS social studies teacher and coach from the fall of 2001 until the spring of 2012. He was a HHS assistant varsity football coach and head football coach for the junior varsity team. Additionally, Wittenberg served as head coach for the HHS junior varsity baseball.
Following graduation from Appalachian State University with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and certification in physical education, Wittenberg began his teaching and coaching career at Fred T. Foard High School in 1996 where he served for the next five years.
According to Dr. Ann Stalnaker, principal at Hickory High, Coach Wittenberg’s experiences help him to understand and connect with the high school. “He develops great relationships with students and he is highly respected by his peers,” said Stalnaker. “He knows how to encourage and motivate student-athletes from all walks of life. He is so enthusiastic about Hickory High and has the commitment and strong character that will make him successful at our school.”
“I consider this position to be a true blessing in my life,” said Wittenberg. “I will have the opportunity to achieve excellence like many HHS coaches before me--including Frank Barger, my father—Larry Wittenberg (who graduated from HHS in 1957), David Craft, Sr., Troy Washam, and many more. I knew them all and was very fortunate to grow up watching these fine coaches lead the athletic programs at Hickory High.
“I honor the historic traditions, but it is a new day at Hickory High. I want to help build new memories for today’s players. My game plan is to first meet all the players; then the parents. I look forward to communicating expectations. I will direct the players as to how they must carry themselves –including their integrity and accountability—to their school, to the team, to themselves and to their families. I look forward to building excitement for Tornado football,” said Wittenberg.
Wittenberg, who graduated from Hickory High in 1991, also played as an outfielder on the varsity baseball team, coached by David Craft, Jr. Today, Craft remains the varsity baseball coach and he serves as the HHS athletic director.
“I have worked with Coach Wittenberg for years,” said Craft. “Coach Wittenberg has a passion for Hickory High and tremendous loyalty to this community. He is an outstanding individual with a great work ethic.
“Coach Wittenberg is a part of the positive tradition of our school,” said Craft. “He will work with our entire community to generate enthusiasm for Hickory High football. We look forward to him leading our program. It is also worth noting that Coach Wittenberg has been recognized for his excellent teaching abilities as he was twice named by his peers as Teacher of the Year.”
HPS Superintendent, Dr. Walter Hart, agrees. “How wonderful that someone with such genuine feelings for Hickory High is going to lead the football program. Coach Wittenberg grew up with Hickory High football and has spent his career prepping for this opportunity. Our hiring committee was so impressed with his 19 years of coaching experiences and his loyalty to Hickory.”
“I am thankful for this exciting opportunity,” said Wittenberg. “I am thankful to God and to my parents. My parents were never too busy to guide me in life—to help me to make the right decisions.
“And I am thankful for all of the excellent teachers and coaches who have been a major influence in my life,” said Wittenberg. “It is my goal to continue to provide effective teaching and coaching at Hickory High, making a difference in the lives of students for years to come.”
A resident of Hickory, Coach Allen Wittenberg is the son of Revonda and Larry Wittenberg. He is married to Kara Wittenberg and they are the parents of two sons.
Lenoir-Rhyne University seniors Ivan Vieitez and Brantley Rumford have been named to the 2015 NCBWA NCAA Division II All-Southeast Region Baseball Preseason First Team.
NCBWA is the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Vieitez, an outfielder and starting pitcher from Miami, Fla., was a Third-Team All-American by Daktronics last year after finishing third in the nation in batting average (.451).
Vieitez also led the Bears in runs scored (39), hits (65), home runs (four), runs batted in (38), slugging percentage (.694) and total bases (100) in 2014.
A first-team all-league and all-region pick as well, Vieitez was the Bears’ top pitcher last spring after finishing with a 5-3 record, a 2.95 earned run average, three complete games, two shutouts and 46 strikeouts.
Rumford, a second baseman from Rock Hill, S.C., was also a 2014 First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference honoree after finishing with a .376 batting average, 32 runs scored, 59 hits and a .503 slugging percentage.
Lenoir-Rhyne opens the 2015 season on Saturday, January 31, against Francis Marion in Florence, S.C., at 11:00 a.m., in the first game of the Carolinas Hospital System Classic. The Bears closed last year on a nine-game winning streak.
2015 NCBWA NCAA Division II
All-Southeast Region Preseason Poll
1. Lander (S.C.) (9) 52-9
2. Columbus State (Ga.) (3) 40-17
3. Mount Olive (N.C.) 40-13
4. Catawba (N.C.) 35-20
5. USC Aiken 36-17
6. Georgia College 35-17
7. UNC Pembroke 33-18
8. Wingate (N.C.) 34-17
9. Erskine (S.C.) 34-17
10. Newberry (S.C.) 30-23
Others Receiving Votes: Armstrong State (Ga.); Montevallo (Ala.); Tusculum (Tenn.); Francis Marion (S.C.); Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.)
2015 NCBWA NCAA Division II
Preseason All-Southeast Region Teams
SP - Craig Brooks, Catawba
SP - Wesley Camp, Newberry
SP - Kodi Whitley, Mount Olive
RP - Trey Watson, Columbus State
C - Steve Hazel, Georgia College
1B - Clay Ardeeser, Georgia College
2B - Brantley Rumford, Lenoir-Rhyne
3B - Colby Painter, Lander
SS - Brandon Overstreet, Erskine
OF - Jackson Oliver, Columbus State
OF - Ivan Vieitez, Lenoir-Rhyne
OF - Tyler Moore, USC Aiken
DH - R.J. Dennard, Armstrong State
UTIL - Anthony Dimino, Belmont Abbey
SP - Shaefer Shepard, Catawba
SP - Garrett Hickman, UNC Pembroke
SP - Andy Sullivan, UNC Pembroke
RP - Ryan McClintock, Catawba
C - Dustin Averett, Columbus State
1B - Rob Shipman, Mount Olive
2B - Vinny Ferrara, Tusculum
3B - Joey Wilson, Erskine
SS - Craig Brooks, Catawba
OF - Jake Sandlin, Georgia College
OF - Weston Lawing, Lander
OF - Nick Kranick, Flagler
DH - Dalton Knight, UNC Pembroke
UTIL - Zach Smith, Erskine
Appalachian State junir guard Frank Eaves has been named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week.
Eaves averaged 25.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game during the week. He set a career-high with 29 points in the win over Troy, scoring 14 points in the opening 10 minutes against the Trojans. Eaves would follow that up with 15 points and a career-high-tying seven rebounds in the win over South Alabama. He also dished out a career-high five assists against the Jaguars.
To highlight the week, Eaves torched the nets for a career-high 31 points, 16 of which came in the first half, and he grabbed a career-high eight rebounds in the win at Texas State. He set a career-high in field goals made (10) during the victory and also snagged five steals on the week.
It is the second Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week honor for Eaves this season.