Appalachian State @ Michigan

Here we go with Week 1:

Appalachian State (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) at Michigan (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Saturday August 30th, Noon

TV/Video: ESPN2 & WatchESPN

Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; WGVZ ESPN 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WCOG 1320 Winston-Salem, Greensboro; WCMC 99.3 Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill; WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WDNC 620 Durham, Raleigh; WHKP 1450 Hendersonville; WAZZ 1490 Fayetteville

Michigan Stadium

Surface: FieldTurf

Capacity: 109,901

Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 

App State: 54.53

Michigan: 79.16

Home: 3.12

Michigan is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 28 points (rounded).

Sportsbook: MIchigan -34, O/U 53.5

Series: Appalachian leads 1-0

Last Meeting: Appalachian 34, Michigan 32, October 27 September 1st, 2007, Ann Arbor          

            The long wait is finally over. In a mere three days, Appalachian Football will finally play its first game as an FBS program against the exact same opponent that catapulted them to the upper echelon of college football. Likely, they are plenty of moments that contributed to this moment in time, but that football game seven years ago took support to another level and opened the door to the present day. On the new and improved Sun Belt schedule there are a plenty of teams that Appalachian will be playing for the first time and a couple familiar faces from years past. Georgia Southern and Appalachian will quickly educate their new peers about the hate and respect each program has for the other. Liberty and Appalachian have played sparingly over the years. Appalachian and Troy played twice in the same year back in 1999, with each team winning on the others home field. And, yeah, Appalachian played Michigan back in 2007.

        Luckily, these teams, Michigan and App, and their positions in the football universe cannot be compared to that day in 2007. Seven years ago, both teams had national championship hopes and only one was able to fulfill that dream. Now, eight wins would be an improvement for either program who both had subpar seasons in 2013. Michigan started their season with five wins before losing six of their last eight games, including a bowl loss to Kansas State. Appalachian started a woeful 1-6 before rallying to win three of their last five, including a loss to Georgia where they kept it close until halftime. Michigan must rebound or else head coach Brady Hoke might be wearing different colors next year. Scott Satterfield is in a good spot for Appalachian without any risks of losing his job after this season while the Mountaineers continue a transition period as an FBS program. Satterfield has repeatedly mentioned that he hopes to really compete in the Sun Belt in 2015.

In 2007, it was the Michigan offense that was loaded with NFL talent while their defense was looking to fill holes. This year, the Michigan defense is the stronger side of the ball while their offense looks to gain a rhythm. Brady Hoke hired offensive guru Doug Nussmeier from Alabama where he spent time as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Nussmeier will serve in the same capacity at Michigan. Nussmeier has also spent time at Fresno State, Washington and with the St. Louis Rams. during his coaching career. Nussmeier is charged with turning Devin Gardner, a dual threat quarterback into more of a pocket passer. Gardner has added about fifteen pounds this offseason and is the leading returner for Michigan in the air (2960 yards) and on the ground (483) from last season. Wide receiver Devin Funchess is the most experienced receiver returning for the Wolverines. Funchess finished the season with 49 catches for 748 yards and six touchdowns. Two other Michigan receivers who are slated to start combined for twenty-one catches last year.

            Michigan will likely lean on two sophomore running backs to carry the load. Neither Derrick Green or De’Veon Smith has separated themselves from one another as the primary running back. However, both come from the same mold as stout runners at 5’10 and 220 pounds each. Michigan will likely roll with the hot hand on Saturday, but don’t be surprised if both get close to fifteen carries apiece. Nussmeier will likely employ a very balanced attack with downhill running plays similar to Alabama. Remember those Tide teams always had a premier back, but another one right behind the starter that could also really carry the mail.

            Appalachian is likely moving into its most uncertain time in its programs history regarding expectations on the field. Most believe making the move to the Sun Belt was the right decision, but there are also plenty of doubters. With a schedule that brings so many new opponents, its tough to determine how the talent will stack up until we all see it first hand. Many on the current roster were recruited as FCS players. The experience is with the upperclassmen while the talent is mostly just a year or so removed from high school football. Last year was a struggle for all involved. Injuries and inexperience led to several close losses and plenty of frustration from all involved. Luckily in Boone, a sub-500 season has been the exception and not the rule for many decades. Another similar record may follow this year, but the main goal is the continued improvement by each and every player and coach.

            The Mountaineers will have plenty of options on offense this fall. Last season, Kam Bryant either handed the ball to Marcus Cox or threw to Andrew Peacock and Tony Washington over half the time. The receivers have graduated and are working on their professional football careers while Marcus Cox returns. Despite losing two of the better receivers in program history, the wide receiving corps is loaded with talent, but once again, the lack of experience remains a concern. Malachi Jones is the leading returning receiver, but my guess is he wont lead the team in yards or receptions when the season is over. Bobo Beathard and Sims McElfresh have waited their turn while true freshman Jaylan Barbour, Isaiah Lewis and Deltron Hopkins will make their impact as well.

Marcus Cox suffered a set back in fall camp a couple weeks ago with surgery on his meniscus. The coaches are hopeful he plays, but Terrence Upshaw also has the coaches confidence should Cox not be able to play. Upshaw was redshirted last year as the seemingly better player, but Cox flourished as an every down back, posting 1,250 rushing yards and 559 receiving yards. Ricky Fergerson appears to be the third string back and has shown improvement in fall camp in the passing game as a receiver.

        Seven years ago, the most distinct advantage Michigan had over Appalachian was their size. We all remember the photo of the coin toss, where the Mountaineer captains looked like middle schoolers compared to the Wolverines. Michigan is not as big as they used to be, and that could be a huge reason why they have fallen off in recent years, especially on the lines. At a Power Five school, its almost a given that they average three-hundred plus pounds across the board on the offensive front, but that is not the case for the Wolverines. Don’t get me wrong, an average of 6’5 and 290 pounds does not seem light by any means to the average person, but in college football, that weight and size is not what it used to be. Appalachian hopes to counter with a nose tackle in Tyson Fernandez that demands a double team and a host of lineman to wear down the Michigan front line. In my opinion, that is where this game will be won and lost. Keeping Michigan off the scoreboard will be ideal for Appalachian, but there are plenty of small questions marks for Appalachian on the defensive front. Deuce Robinson and Stephen Burns battled injuries throughout fall camp. Ronald Blair returns, but has not seen much game action in the last two years. If the App defensive front can hold their own, the Mountaineers will have a chance. I have confidence in the Appalachian offense, as long as red zone chances are turned into touchdowns and not field goal attempts. Its almost crazy to even think that lightening will strike twice in Ann Arbor, and I am not stupid enough to make that call, but in order for lightening to strike twice, it has to hit once, and we all know what happened then. I don’t think this Michigan team is 34 points better than Appalachian. Way too much pride on the line for the Mountaineers not to make this one competitive.

The First Pick:

Wolverines            35

Mountaineers              16

Appalachian Football @ Furman

Here we go with Week 7:

Appalachian State (1-4, 1-2) @ Furman (2-4, 1-2)

Time: 1:30 pm


Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; WCOG 1320 Winston-Salem, Greensboro; WMFR 1230 High Point, Greensboro; WSML 1200, Burlington, Greensboro; WCMC 99.3 Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill; WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WTOE 1470 Spruce Pine; WPWT 870 Bristol, Johnston City; WZGV 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WDNC 620 Durham, Raleigh; WHKP 1450 Hendersonville; WAZZ 1490 Fayetteville; WLON 1050 Lincolnton

Paladin Stadium

Surface: Natural Grass/Fieldturf?

Capacity: 16,000

Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 

App State: 47.61

Furman: 45.51

Home: 3.69

Furman is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 1 ½ points (rounded).

Series: Furman leads 22-18-3

Last Meeting: Appalachian 33, Furman 28, November 10, 2012, Boone

WXAPP’s Furple Gameday Weather Trends:

Mostly Cloudy skies with upper 60’s for the kickoff.           

                 Earlier this year, we talked about how much change was occurring around the Appalachian State football program. From conferences to coaches, it has all been covered, but perhaps the last talked about topic of discussion was the small matter of discipline. We didn’t expect much change from one head coach to the next, considering the new kid on the block had learned from the man who was also his own head coach. None thought that player behavior was going to be an issue until it awoke from a hibernation from nearly a decade ago. Student athlete behaviors will always be ridiculed because they are the ones in the spotlight, playing in front of crowds that pay to watch them play. Hollywood actors get their play in national magazines while mostly football and basketball players are gossiped about at the local coffee shops. While these celebrities are in their prime, many look the other way and give those who foul up a second chance. But, when one misstep leads to another and the games or shows are not what they used to be, the public is quick to judge. The behavior never changed, it just became tolerable to extent. The actions of a football player in Boone have hopefully changed for the better. Our former coach was always an apologist, willing to take a negative event and turn it into a positive. Most of the time it worked out, as players got their second chance. However, a new sheriff is in town, and he has simple rules, which unfortunately not adhered to by a former star. But on the back side, there might always be a safety net, for a troubled student athlete to fall into. In an eerily quiet silence in a courtroom in Watauga County this week, a court official directed the alleged: “Son, if you have not had a chance to talk with Coach Moore, I believe he would like to speak with you.”

            Finally, we get back to football, after a few days which may have felt like an eternity. Bad football is better than none at all, and that is what we will continue to do here. Appalachian is on the brink of a very unprecedented season for all the wrong reasons. The Mountaineers are breaking offensive records in the worst possible way. Appalachian fans are used to halves of football with 223 yards gained, not full games. A first down is not what it used to be in Kidd Brewer Stadium. The bell tolls on third down and you can actually hear it, compared to not hearing anything. An anemic offense is averaging just over 18 points a game at The Rock. It is something this blogger has never witnessed in over twenty five years of Appalachian fandom.

            With such a low offensive numbers, there is not much to review from the week before. The Mountaineers continue to rely almost solely on a true freshman running back to provide some offense. Opposing teams might now be catching up to Marcus Cox. Despite going over the century mark in combined rushing and receiving yards for the fourth straight game, it was his lowest mark of the stretch. Cox averaged just a hair less than five yards a carry on the ground, but could not find a crease in the passing game to break a long one. He was also held without a touchdown for only the second time this season. Cox will be tested once again this week as Furman sports the SoCon’s leading rushing defense, allowing only 3.6 yards per carry.

            Looking solely at the final score, you would think the Appalachian defense was dominated all game long. The Mountaineers held Samford at bay as long as possible in the first half before giving up a two late touchdowns in the second quarter. After giving up an opening drive touchdown, Samford punted on four straight possessions. Those punts accounted for all but two of the Samford punts on the game. On those four possessions that ended with punts, Samford could only manage one first down. The flip side is that Appalachian went three and out on three of those four possessions. Nine plays for twenty yards. The defense had to run back on the field quickly way too many times in the first half. The score may have still been in reach at 21-3 at the half, but everyone in the stadium knew that game was over.

            Appalachian might be able to learn a lesson from Furman this weekend. The Paladins have talent in spots, but not in a lot of places. Their coaches know it, and have used an approach on offense to play to their strengths. Furman has always been a power running team to their core. They continue those ways even with a somewhat smaller than usual offensive line. On the right side, the Paladins are especially thin, with a 253-pound tackle and a 260-pound guard. That is made up for on the left side of the line with preseason All American tackle Dakota Dozier who is a solid 6’5 and 303 pounds and appropriately named Tank Phillips at right guard, who is 6’1 and 290 pounds. They have been able to clear enough room to run for their leading rusher Hank McCloud, who is well on his way to a 1,000 yard season. McCloud is a traditional running back who has a little bit of everything. He will surprise you with his quickness and his power and knows when to use it at the right time. Appalachian will best served to get him to second guess himself behind the line so the Mountaineers can attack from the linebacker level.

             Furman has used three different quarterbacks in its six games this season. Neither has been particularly adept throwing the ball which is dandy for Furman. Reese Hannon is the preference for the Paladins, but has only played in three games this season, all of which he has started in. Hannon has 409 yards passing on the season, with one interception and two touchdown passes. Hannon is not a threat to run on designed plays, and would rather throw an incompletion than to force something that is not there. The Paladins will throw the ball out of necessity, only to keep the linebackers from sneaking up at the line, but they would rather not. Hannon threw two interceptions to the Mountaineers last year while completing nineteen of his thirty six pass attempts.

            Furman probably requested one game tape to study the Mountaineer defense. They wanted the tape from the Charleston Southern game, one that fits their offensive strategy like a glove. The Paladins simply put, want to control the clock by keeping it out of its opponents hands. They want to shorten the game, mainly by giving the opposition fewer times with the football in their hands in which to score. It worked well two years ago in Greenville, when the Mountaineers fell 20-10. Appalachian turned the ball over repeatedly and couldn’t score when it counted. This Mountaineer team can’t score either and will be pressed to on each possession if the Paladins have their way. We believe an old school low scoring game will be fitting to end one of the SoCon’s better rivalries over the years. We are hoping the Mountaineers can find their way on offense. Rhythm is the key word for Appalachian on offense. The timing has to be right with the offensive line, quarterbacks and the receivers. One way to keep that timing right is stay disciplined. Too many times last week, the Mountaineers found themselves gaining momentum slowly, until a penalty, or a bad sack forced them into a tough situation. The ball must be moving forward at all times, with an attacking mentality versus a side to side approach. The easiest way to gain ten yards is shortest way, not the longest. Appalachian has a chance to win if they can score, which is a must. We have not seen it yet, or enough, but this Appalachian defense can play better with a lead, and some support, and believe it can happen this weekend. Furman was held in check last year by the Mountaineers in the run game. The Paladins ran for 97 yards on 26 attempts. Appalachian gifted Furman two defensive touchdowns and a kickoff return last year. Otherwise, the Mountaineer defense played well. At times, a punting contest could take place in this game, which will be low scoring. Eventually the Mountaineers are going to come to their senses. A win over Furman seems like as good a time as any to do it.

The First Pick:

Furple                          16

Mountaineers              19

Women’s Basketball 67 West Virginia 72


It has been a long ten day break for the holidays for Appalachian State women’s basketball. Their last time out, they used a big second half run to close out East Tennessee State to claim their sixth straight win. Their opponent on Friday evening is the only other Division I school that bears the same mascot as Appalachian, the Mountaineers of West Virginia. This game appears the be a battle of rebounds as both teams average close to six more rebounds than their opponents on the year.

West Virginia (7-3) has won 24 games or more in three straight seasons and has been a power in the Big East in the past. This season marks the inaugural season for the WVU in the Big XII. West Virginia features three double digit scorers and has used the same starting lineup in every game except one this season. Ayana Dunning leads the team with 11.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. West Virginia’s lone perimeter threat is Taylor Palmer who has hit 19 three pointers on the season. Crystal Leary has yet to start a game, but plays the role of a truly selfish player off the bench. Leary averages 6.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

West Virginia appears to be a team that resembles Appalachian very well so the matchup should be quite interesting. Both teams foul more than their opponents, but also force turnovers and move the basketball well on offense. Six of West Virginia’s ten games are against teams with winning records, with a seventh opponent sitting at 6-6, which provides WVU with a lofty RPI of 46, with their strength of schedule ranked 34th in the country. Appalachian will be WVU’s seventh top 100 RPI opponent, while Appalachian will be facing its highest rated RPI opponent of the season.

According to social media sources, it seems that a few Appalachian players had some issues getting to Morgantown, WV due to the severe weather conditions of the past few days. It will be something to keep an eye on as this game wears on, to see how focused the black and gold are about this game. scouts this game as a 12 point loss for Appalachian.


Appalachian mounted a furious comeback in the second half for before falling on the road at West Virginia on Friday night. The Apps trailed by as much as twenty one points in the second half before tying the game at 65 with two and half minutes to play. West Virginia won the battle on the free throw line as time expired to give them a 72-67 win. West Virginia went to the line 26 times for the game while Appalachian was only granted 15 free throw attempts. Appalachian falls to 7-2 on the season, both losses coming to members of major conferences by single digits on the road.

As has been Darcie Vincent’s strategy in the “bigger” games on the schedule, she used a rotation of just a very few players. Seven players saw action for Appalachian, including Raven Gary, who saw just six minutes in her first action since foot injury that has kept her sidelined for several weeks. The remaining 194 minutes were divided amongst six players, which means each players plays about 32 minutes, if all things were equal. The problem with a predominantly six man lineup to play an entire game, is that you gamble with your gameplan and your scheme to beat your opponent. Every player must show up on that given night. Unfortunately for Appalachian, every player didnt have their signature game against WestVirginia.

What we saw was a typical game from Anna Freeman, who finished with 25 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 7 steals. However, Anna uncharacteristically turned the ball over six times, doubling her previous high turnover mark of the season. Courtney Freeman did not have her typical game at all. Courtney only managed four points and six rebounds. Maryah Sydnor is shaking off her slow start to the season, as she scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds. Katie Mallow added 13 points, sparked by nailing a trio of three pointers. Michelle Taylor and Raven Gary did not score, combining to miss all five of their field goals attempts.

Overall, it was a good effort by Appalachian after a ten day layoff. They have been in every game they lost this season in the final minutes which is a huge plus. Appalachian will now hit the conference slate for nineteen straight games before the conference tournament. First up is Davidson on the road next Saturday at 3pm, and at Furman on January 7th.

“It was time…”

By now, everyone has heard the news. It spread like wildfire on Sunday afternoon after one of the most stunning losses, forget the playoffs, in Appalachian football history. Jerry Moore had coached his last game for the black and gold. This was not a quick, knee jerk decision, but a more calculated one that required an almost perfect execution. It must be extremely hard to try convince a coach that has meant so much to so many people that he needs to turn in his whistle. Jerry Moore is one of a kind and there will never be another man like him.

As we listened in the parking lot Saturday afternoon, stunned like we had all seen a ghost, you could tell something was different about the postgame interviews and fifth quarter show. Coaches occasionally get caught up in the emotions of their season ending, especially they way this one unfolded. Jerry Moore rarely showed it, but you could hear it in his voice. It was crackling and it was obvious that he had recently wept. At that moment, very few knew that the future of Appalachian football was about to have its most drastic change in program history.

Jerry Moore spent twenty-four years on the sideline at one school. It was a perfect situation when he came to Appalachian in 1989. He wanted to continue to coach, but the desire for the pressures to win at the highest level were almost unappealing to him. Appalachian had an excellent football tradition long before Jerry Moore, but he took it to a level that has changed the expectations of fans and the like for generations to come.

After roughly ten years on the job, Moore and Appalachian were constantly  in the conversation as one of the best coaches and programs without a national championship. Several times the Mountaineers had great teams, but had fallen short in the playoffs. In the few years after the turn of the century, Appalachian’s success on the field had slowly declined as the Mountaineers win total had decreased by one for several seasons in a row. As current athletics director Charlie Cobb came on board prior to the 2005 season, it was almost certain that change was coming. Cobb gave Moore a chance to prove himself in front of his own eyes.

For whatever reason, the stars aligned perfectly in 2005. The Mountaineers were a blue collar team, short on talent, but full of heart. Along with the addition of Cobb in the athletics office, Kenneth Peacock was  in his first full year of being chancellor. Their was a different type of excitement on campus. The new leadership was fresh and determined to make Appalachian a player in the classroom and on the field. With that, brought a renewed energy to the fanbase, one that packed the season opener in 2005 against Coastal Carolina with an over capacity crowd.

During the championship years, Appalachian spirit was at an all time high. It was as if the Mountaineers could do no wrong. In the 2000’s, at the height of Appalachian’s run, the NCAA announced a moratorium that would not allow schools to change subdivisions. For many years, long before Jerry Moore was in Boone as football coach, there were many outcrys for Appalachian to move back into Division I for football. Sure, the Mountaineers were always in Division I, but the I-AA monikor, and eventual rebranding to FCS, led many to believe that those schools were being ignored. There was a lack of television coverage and overall interest  in the “little guys”. Jerry Moore was vocal throughout his career at Appalachian that he enjoyed the level of football that Appalachian played. He knew better, as he had experienced the cruel world that was big boy football.

With the moratorium in place and Moore’s job security at an all time high due to the national championships and deep playoff runs, Appalachian held its course and enjoyed their successes. However, the crys for movement to the newly named FBS were getting louder. The time was right to explore the possibilities. The Southern Conference had made additions that Appalachian was not exactly happy with. In the previous decade, Appalachian had lost natural long time rivals in Virginia Military and East Tennessee State. The Southern Conference added  Wofford, Elon and Samford to make up for those losses; three schools that did not exactly fit Appalachian’s university profile.

As the moratorium was coming to an end, schools across the nation began talks of conference realignment. With Appalachian’s success on the football field, its marquee sport, the time was right for Appalachian to look into a different conference for its sports. Rumors spread of an exit plan for Jerry Moore, knowing that his interest in coaching for an FBS program was very low. He did not want to start over, so to speak. Since 2010, when Appalachian announced its intent to conduct a football feasibility study to evaluate its position in Division I, most knew that Jerry Moore’s days were numbered. It was a matter of time.

The last two summers, Appalachian’s name had been mentioned several times in conference realignment, from Conference USA to the Mid-American to the Sun Belt, but had been passed over for schools in higher profile media markets. After the 2011 season, in which Appalachian was dominated in a early playoff loss by Maine, several Appalachian caoches left to lead Western Carolina. There are several reasons as to why they left. They knew that Appalachian was in the midst of dramatic change, and they were potentially not qualified to be coaches in the FBS, so they left for their own job security. It was possible that Cobb wanted Moore to step down last year, as their agreement about his last season as coach was taking place at around the same time. On December 22nd, 2011, Mark Speir was announced as the coach at Western Carolina. On January 4th, 2012 Scott Satterfield returned to Boone as offensive coordinator and associate head coach. Moore had gone years without having someone titled as the actual offensive coordinator, and had never really named an associate head coach, although many believed John Wiley to be that person if the opportunity ever presented itself. Suddenly, the former walkon quarterback and quaterbacks coach during the championship years was back. Many asked questions about Satterfield being the head coach in waiting, although it was never formally announced, and never should have been.  

Conference realignment came with a fury in the last couple weeks of the 2012 college football season. It started at the top with moves out of the ACC to the Big 10 and eventually has trickled down to the lower-tier FBS conferences. This somewhat sudden movement in realignment had many question where Appalachian could possibly be headed once again. However, Moore and Cobb had come to an agreement, to disagree with the future of the program. It is possible that movement could occur in the coming days, and the longer that there was speculation about the head coach at Appalachian and his feelings about which subdivision he preferred playing in, the larger affect it would have on the football program with National Signing day only 65 days away. There had to be a clean cut, and it needed to be planned out as much as possible.

The easiest thing to do as fans was to casually talk about the future of Appalachian football beyond Jerry Moore. Then reality hit. On a day that is usually reserved for massive grieving over the end of the football season, another bomb was dropped. Without warning, less than 24 hours after the end of football season, it was also the end of the line for their beloved coach. For the second consecutive offseason, Charlie Cobb is charged with the task to replace a football coach or coaches. These changes are unprecedented for the school, and extremely rare considering the time Jerry Moore spent on the mountain. Coaches in this day of college football do not last decades anymore. Moore is the last of a breed, not only as a football coach but as a man. His values will always grace this program even though his presence will not. He created memories that will never be replaced in the minds of his supporters.

Charlie Cobb is in a tough spot. Many candidates will inquire about this position, but the hire may have already been made eleven months ago. Regardless of the name, it has to be a home run. It has to continue to keep fans interested and their checkbooks open. On top of it all, it has be the correct choice. If Cobb intends to extend a fundrasing position to Moore, it will only make sense if a familiar face is in charge. A new face will most likely not be so welcoming of the former coach hanging around to critique his every fourth down and one. Good luck with your decision making process Charlie Cobb. And lastly, thank you Jerry Moore for being one of the best people that has ever graced this University with his presence.

Appalachian State Baseball (40-16) vs #23 Oklahoma (38-23) NCAA Tournament, Charlottesville, VA.

All of the victories have been compiled, and paired against the losses, both in and out of conference, and for Appalachian and Oklahoma, it has matriculated into a NCAA Regional match up in Charlottesville, Va, home of the Virginia Cavaliers. Both the Mountaineers and Sooners come to Charlottesville as at-large qualifiers. Appalachian finished tied for first during the regular season in the seventh ranked RPI Southern Conference. Oklahoma finished fourth in the Big XII Conference, which was ranked fourth in the RPI. Oklahoma lost in the Big XII tournament championship game to Missouri. The Sooners received the second seed compared to Appalachian who received a three seed. The difference in seeding basically determines a final at bat for the opening games of the regional.

Oddly enough, for schools located 1,010 miles apart, both schools share a common opponent. Samford finished its conference schedule against Appalachian at home and then went on the road to Oklahoma for its final regular season series. Both teams were able to defeat Samford in two out of three games. Appalachian played its series with Samford in Birmingham, and eventually lost to Samford in the Southern Conference tournament.

Oklahoma is a team that relies heavily on its starting pitching to carry them. Jordan John (8-6, 2.30) is a guy who has pitched four complete games in only ten starts. John has also made fourteen relief appearances. He has pitched more innings than any other Sooner pitcher with 109.2, and has struck out 97 batters. Opponents are only batting .235 against John this season. Dillon Overton (5-3, 3.24) has accumulated fifteen starts and five relief appearances. Overton has logged 108.1 innings, the second most innings pitched on the staff. Overton leads the Sooners with 109 strikeouts, but also has given up a team high 114 hits, 49 runs, 16 doubles, three triples and six home runs. Jonathan Gray is the only true starter on the team,  as all of his appearances (16) have been starts. Gray is 8-4 with a 3.47 ERA. Another strikeout pitcher, Gray averages a punch out an inning, but also gives up a hit an inning as well. Gray has walked more batters than any other Sooner in his 90.2 innings of work.

Besides the starters John and Overton, who have combined for nineteen relief appearances, Oklahoma is a mixed bag in the bullpen. John actually is tied for the team lead with four saves. Steven Okert leads the team in relief appearances (22) and is also tied with John with four saves. Okert is fourth on the team in innings pitched and holds an 8-7 record with a 2.92 ERA. As a team, Oklahoma has thirteen saves among six different pitchers. There is high chance Appalachian could see two starter quality pitchers in the same game. Sometimes in regional play, teams like Oklahoma will try to get by with their 2nd or 3rd starter, while Appalachian’s starting pitcher on Friday will undoubtedly be Ryan Arrowood.

Oklahoma is not a team that scores a ton of runs, but thanks to those pitchers, they don’t need to. Max White is by far, Oklahoma’s best player. The center fielder leads the team in mulitple categories including batting average (.356), hits (80), doubles (17), and RBI (54). Catcher Lockwood Hunter reminds me of Georgia Southern’s Chase Griffin. A guy with power (11 HR), but does not bat for a high average (.250). Similar to Griffin, Hunter has struckout 66 times in 184 at bats. Second Baseman Jack Mayfield is a speed demon with ten stolen bases and fourteen of his 61 hits being doubles. Mayfield is third on the team with 88 total bases and leads the team with 42 runs.

Most are aware what Appalachian has to offer, but for our new readers, I will give you some insight. Appalachian keeps a very tight lineup as far as the hitters are concerned. Leading off, you will see Hector Crespo (.317, 42 BB, 30 SB). Following Crespo is center fielder Tyler Zupcic (.338, 17 2B, 12 SB, 14 HBP) who is swinging a very hot bat right now and leads the team with four triples. Batting third is the shortstop Will Callaway, (.330, 4 HR, 52 RBI, 23 SB) who has been tailing off of late. Callaway was batting above .400 at one point of the season, but has gotten better in the field as the season has progressed. The designated hitter is Daniel Kassouf (.345, 17 HR, 60 RBI) who charged hard at the SoCon triple crown before enduring a late season slump. Kassouf set a single season school record for home runs. Batting fifth is the right fielder, Tyler Tewell (.375, 6 HR, 43 RBI, 17 2B) who is the hardest Mountaineer to strike out. Tewell only has 18 K’s in 208 plate appearances. Catcher Jeremy Dowdy (.271, 3 HR, 37 RBI)  bats sixth and can run well for a catcher with ten stolen bases. Dowdy has also thrown out 12 of 30 runners trying to steal on him. Batting seventh is the first baseman Trey Holmes (.249, 6 HR, 37 RBI), who has some power, but is mostly known a great fielding first baseman. Trey has committed five errors in 545 chances for .991 fielding percentage. Preston Troutman (.280, 24 RBI) has extra base hits on eleven of his forty hits. Troutman rested an injured hamstring in the middle of the season and split some time with Brandon Burris, who is most likely the first pinch hitter off the bench. Batting ninth is third baseman Noah Holmes (.229, 9 2B), who like his brother, is another terrific fielder on the left side of the infield. Holmes leads the team with seven sac bunts. The final three hitters in the Mountaineer lineup are left handed.

Much like the batting order, Appalachian has started the trio of Ryan Arrowood, Seth Grant and Rob Marcello the entire season for weekend series. Jamie Nunn and Jeffrey Springs are a pair of freshman who can really deliver the ball to the plate and have started ten games combined. As previously mentioned, Arrowood is the likely start against Oklahoma. Arrowood is 10-0 on the year with 4.03 ERA. Arrowood is Appalachian’s all time wins leader with 27. In the bullpen is closer Nathan Hyatt (1-0, 15 S, 3.46) who has high 90’s speed on his fastball, but can be a little wild. Tyler Moore and David Port have been the regular set up men who have pitched the most in relief, but both have been erratic of late. Coming on has been Jordan Jessup and Ryne Frankoff. Will Helms is a left hander who comes on in situational appearances.   


Appalachian’s game against Oklahoma which was originally scheduled for Friday at 8pm, was moved up a few hours pending inclement weather. The weather was so bad, it delayed both games on Friday. Virginia & Army are still stuck in the first inning and will start at 1pm while Appalachian and Oklahoma will get started at 6pm on Saturday.


Appalachian’s Ryan Arrowood took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and Ryne Frankoff held off Oklahoma in the ninth inning to win their opening game of the NCAA Charlottesville Regional. Oklahoma’s Caleb Bushyhead singled up the middle in the seventh inning to break up the no hitter and Arrowood received a standing ovation from a crowd of 2,084. Arrowood allowed another hit and a run in the 8th inning, but that was all Oklahoma could handle from Arrowood, who became the nation’s winningest pitcher at 11-0. Nathan Hyatt came in for the extended save in the 8th, but ran into trouble in the ninth. Frankoff came on and finished off the Sooners with a walk and a strikeout. Oklahoma scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth before falling to Appalachian 5-4.

The Mountaineers began the scoring in the third inning when Trey Holmes led off the inning with a double. Preston Troutman was able to bunt Holmes to third base. A single by Noah Holmes scored Trey Holmes. Tyler Zupcic singled sharply to give Appalachian runners on first and second base. Will Callaway reached on error, scoring Noah Holmes, but Zupcic was gunned down at the plate trying to score from first base.

The score remained 2-0 for Appalachian until the the eighth inning when Appalachian and Oklahoma traded runs. The Mountaineers would score two more runs in the ninth inning which was just enough insurance to hold off the Sooners 5-4, for the Mountaineers first NCAA win since 1973. The win also gave Appalachian their first 40-win season since 1986. Appalachian advanced in the winners bracket to play regional host Virginia.

Appalachian State Baseball (25-9, 10-5 SoCon) vs. Eastern Kentucky (16-17, 8-4 OVC)

Eastern Kentucky has been through an up and down season that has been filled with streaks of winning and losing. After winning three of their first four games, the Colonels went on to lose their next 6 games before winning their next seven games. Since then, they have won two and lost two. During their six game losing streak the Colonels averaged three runs per game. In their seven game winning streak, they averaged 8.8 runs per game. The offense has tailed off some in the last week, but they are still scoring 7 runs per games in the last four games, which works out to 8.2 runs per game their last 11 contests. In turn, eight of those last eleven games were at home in Richmond, Ky. The Colonels have several common opponents with the Mountaineers. EKU won two games out of three over East Tennessee State and Wofford. The Colonels split two games with UNC-Greensboro.

The recent four game road stretch was brutal to the Mountaineers. After gaining their highest ranking in school history, the Mountaineers faltered to a 1-3 week. The week saw the team batting average fall from .311 to .308 on the season. Just a couple weeks ago, Appalachian had two players above .400 on the season, and a third hitting just below that level. Currently, four Mountaineers are batting between .377 and .396 on the season. Daniel Kassouf continues his run for the SoCon triple crown. Kassouf is batting .337 with 13 homers and 41 RBI’s, which is good enough for seventh, second and second in the league, respectively.

Predicting the starting pitchers for this week should be fun. Jamie Nunn has pitched three straight weekends and still made his normal Tuesday start for Appalachian. Jeffrey Springs was the Wednesday starter when Appalachian was playing two midweek games a week. This will be the first week with two midweek games since March 13-14 when the Mountaineers played Duke and South Carolina. Eastern Kentucky has not played one midweek game since March 27th when they defeated Marshall 10-3. The Colonels used nine pitchers in that game and everyone threw exactly one inning. In a two game midweek series against UNC-Greensboro and Indiana, the Colonels used Blake Bottoms and Cody Creamer.

UPDATE: Tuesday game was rained out. Doubleheader scheduled for Wednesday.

UPDATE Wednesday 11:26 AM: Doubleheader cancelled due to rain.