BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State opens its 2018 baseball season at UNCG on Friday. App State alum and left-handed reliever Jeffrey Springs hit the road Tuesday for a much-longer trip.
Springs, who pitched for the Mountaineers before being drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2015, flew from Charlotte to Arizona to participate in the Rangers' big league camp. Pitchers and catchers officially report Wednesday, a day before team activities are scheduled to begin.
 
The non-roster invitation is a telling and noteworthy accomplishment, as the 25-year-old Springs averaged 11.7 strikeouts and only 3.0 walks per nine innings last season for the Kinston-based Down East Wood Ducks, the Rangers' affiliate in the High-A Carolina League. 
After making 17 starts to open last season, he came out of the bullpen in his last 14 appearances, and Springs has career totals of a 1.44 ERA with 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings as a pro reliever.
 
"To be honest, I was in a bit of shock when I got the call," Springs said. "Being able to go out and pitch with guys that have made it and are established big leaguers and pitch in front of big league staff, I'm just trying to go out and let them know who I am, what I can and can't do moresothan what they already know. I'm pretty excited and a little bit nervous, but I think it's a good nervous."
 
In addition to members of the Rangers' 40-man roster, Springs is the second-youngest of the 15 pitchers who received non-roster invites to the big league camp. That group includes 44-year-old Bartolo Colon, and 11 of those 15 pitchers have appeared in the majors during the last two seasons.
 
Of the four prospects who haven't, two have pitched in Triple A and one has pitched in Double A, meaning the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Springs has certainly impressed people in the Rangers' organization with the potential he's shown early in his pro career.
 
MLB.com listed Springs as one of 10 "under the radar" players entering Rangers camp, putting him at No. 6 and noting, "He has a cross-body delivery with a 90-92 mph fastball, plus changeup and solid mound demeanor. If his curve picks up, the Rangers might have another left-handed relief option."
 
In three minor league seasons, Springs spent the first one and a half as a reliever before switching to a starting role. After returning to the bullpen for his final 14 appearances with the Wood Ducks last season, he allowed no runs while striking out 36 batters and walking just five in 22.1 innings. Opposing batters hit .173 against him as a reliever.
 
"From the get-go, here's everything I have with all my pitches," Springs said. "It's not having to think about how I'm going to have to get a guy out the third and fourth time. You have one, two and maybe three innings at a time with all four pitches. 'This is what I have and good luck' kind of mentality. I enjoy both of them, and whatever they think is the best chance of me making it is what I want to do."

Following his graduation from South Point High School in Belmont, Springs pitched primarily as a starter at App State from 2012-2015, totaling 38 starts over his final three seasons. He went 4-2 with a 4.46 ERA as a senior and pitched into the ninth inning of two league wins, including a complete-game victory in which he struck out 11 batters from ULM.
 
After being a 30th-round selection of the Rangers in 2015, Springs made his pro debut as a short-season relief pitcher for the Spokane Indians and continued as a reliever through 38 career appearances with Spokane, the Class-A Hickory Crawdads and the Advanced-A High Desert Mavericks. His 26-game stint as a minor league starter over, he's back in the bullpen, now with a chance to perform in a big-league camp.
 
"It's been a fun challenge to tackle," Springs said. "Whether it's as a bullpen guy or starter or a closer or long reliever, I just want to be able to do anything and everything and give myself the best opportunity to continue to progress and hopefully one day pitch in the big leagues."
 
 
App State Field Hockey on the Rise
 
BOONE, N.C. - When Doug Gillin began his tenure as Appalachian State's director of athletics in February 2015, the Mountaineers' field hockey program was without a coach or a conference. The team played at a beautiful new stadium, but the stadium consisted of only a field and stands (i.e., no bathrooms or team areas).

Fast forward to 2018, and App State field hockey is a program seriously on the rise.

After going 1-15 in 2016, the squad finished the 2017 season with an 8-11 record, its first season with at least eight wins since 2003. 

"I am extremely proud of this group," said head coach Meghan Dawson, who wrapped up her third season at the helm last fall. "The results we had are a combination of the past two years of hard work from the upperclassmen working tirelessly to get better every day, as well as the freshmen coming in and buying into what our upperclassmen have worked to achieve."

On February 22, 2018, a bid will be placed on a new fieldhouse at Brandon & Erica M. Adcock Field with a finished date scheduled for July 15.

The new fieldhouse will feature home and visitor locker rooms with showers, home and visitor team lounges, a coaches locker room, an officials room and dedicated entries for the Mountaineers and visitors. For enhanced fan experience on gamedays, public restrooms will be added.

The Adcocks recently contributed an additional gift to jump-start construction, which expedited construction in order to open the new facility by the 2018 season. They pledged a matching gift to encourage alumni, family and friends to take part in funding the project. A Mountaineer Impact has successfully raised 70 percent toward the match so far.

Through the generosity of the 2017 senior class - Taylor CimbalistRebecca McLeanSavanna Sheridan and Maddie Phillips - and their families, Gillin presented Dawson with a check in the amount of $66,000 to support the new fieldhouse at Brandon & Erica M. Adcock Field. Once completed, the team lounge will be dedicated to the 2017 senior class. Upon approval by the App State Board of Trustees, the scoreboard at Adcock Field will be named in honor of McLean for her family's contributions to the program.

"I'm really grateful for the support my parents have had over the last four years," said McLean. "They continually pushed me to be the best that I can be no matter the outcome. Appalachian field hockey has been a big part of my life, and I'm honored to have my name on the scoreboard."

Individuals who wish to make an investment in the field hockey program's future can make a gift in support of A Mountaineer Impact by contacting Suzette Mauney, Assistant Athletics Director for Development, at 828-262-7670 or mauneyss@appstate.edu.

2017 Season Recap
In App State's inaugural season in the Mid-American Conference, the Mountaineers were picked to finish sixth in the preseason rankings, but went 3-3 in conference play to finish fourth and earn a spot in the MAC Championships. Appalachian fell in the first round of the tournament to the top-seeded Miami RedHawks, yet had two players named to the All-Tournament Team: Sheridan and Veerle Van Heertum.

All three captains - Cimbalist, Sheridan and McLean - were named to the All-MAC Teams. Cimbalist and Sheridan were selected to the first team, while McLean earned second-team honors.
 
App State opened up the season with a 3-1 road victory at La Salle, its first season-opening win since 2014 and first on the road since 2009. The Mountaineers went 2-6 in their first eight games, being shut out three times and dropping a decision to No. 4 UNC.

The Mountaineers would turn the season around, going 6-2 over their next eights games that included a four-game winning streak. App State claimed its first MAC victory over Ohio, defeated VCU 2-1 in overtime, blanked Central Michigan in back-to-back games, shut out Saint Louis at home and then clinched fourth place in the MAC with a 3-2 victory at Ball State. 

"The best part of that particular stretch of the season was proving to ourselves, over and over, that we have what it takes to win," said goalkeeper Rachel Gaines, who collected three shutouts and made 51 saves in those eight games. "We stuck to our gameplan day-in and day-out and it allowed us to show a slice of what we are capable of. From the forwards to the midfielders to the backs, the entire team did their part, and it enabled us to be successful."

Over a span of eight games, App State scored 21 goals, averaging 2.62 goals per game, and was led by Cimbalist and Ali Williams on offense, who combined to score 12 goals. Williams was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Week for the week of Oct. 2-8 after scoring a goal in each of App State's three games that week. She became the first Mountaineer to earn a MAC weekly award and the first to receive a weekly conference award since 2013.

Looking toward the future of the program, Dawson said, "We have a great standard now with most of the team returning. Once there is a little bit of success, the group we have wants more and wants to achieve more than what we did this past season. We will absolutely miss our seniors as they have left huge shoes to fill for the underclassmen, but that is an exciting challenge."
 
 

Mountaineers Sign 10 for 2018 Recruiting Class

 
BOONE, N.C. – Appalachian State University men’s soccer head coach Jason O’Keefe and the coaching staff is excited to announce the signing of 10 future Mountaineers for the 2018 campaign.
 
"This is another great class for us here at App State," head coach Jason O'Keefe said.  "All of these players have one common trait, and that is they are winners.  They come from winning environments and have the mentality we are looking for.  I want to thank Dan Louisignau and Shaun Utterson for working tirelessly to help deliver this 2018 class.  This will be another deep class which will help us continue to move this program forward. It addresses our needs for some more goal scoring punch, athleticism, versatility, and a high soccer IQ.  These young men are all scholar athletes and will represent App State tremendously well in the classroom, on the soccer field, and in the community.  We're expecting to sign three more student-athletes, which only raises the profile of this skilled signing class. We can't wait to blend this group with our returning team and get to work.  We are very excited for the future of App State Soccer.
 
Charlie Baird | 6’1 | Defender | Nottinghamshire, England | Outwood Academy (Portland)
Baird enjoyed a successful high school and club career where he was the most-captained student-athlete in five seasons. Baird was also named the Most Valuable Player and reached the quarterfinals in the North Nottinghamshire Cup under Mark Wolverson and showed off his scoring skills where he averaged two goals per game. The future Mountaineer played for Worksop Town FC, which is one of the oldest soccer clubs in the world. Born on Sept. 23, 1998, Baird is the son of Andy and Helen Baird. He has one brother (Samual). His hobbies include golf and cricket. He is a part of sports leaders and received the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Baird will major in international business. 
 
O’Keefe on Baird
“He is a player with a nose for the goal and has played at the highest levels in England with Worksop Town FC and Harrogate Town FC U-21's.  He has great experience and great success in the classroom.  Charlie can score goals in bunches in a variety of ways.  His soccer IQ combined with his competitive spirit will be an integral part of our future success.”
 
Parker Cross | 5’5 | Defender | Cary, N.C. | Panther Creek High School
A two-time letterwinner at Panther Creek, Cross garnered numerous and individual awards. Cross’ combined 38 goals and 14 assists in his sophomore and junior seasons led to an all-conference nod in both campaigns while being named all-state in his junior year. The awards didn’t stop there as he received the team’s Most Valuable Player Honor in his sophomore season. The Mountaineer commit led the conference in goals his junior year as well. Playing with his current club team, NCFC Academy in the U-19 Division under John Bradford, Cross has scored two goals thus far. Cross was born on Sept. 7, 1999. He is the son of Brian and Brittany Cross and has three brothers, Caleb (20), Jaden (16) and Cody (14). 
 
O’Keefe on Cross
"Parker Is a versatile player who can play in the midfield or the back line coming out of NCFC USSDA Academy.  He is a very gritty player that has a competitive side which we love.  He is a technically gifted player that will make an immediate impact on and off the field here in Boone."  
 
Joey Cipicchio | 5’11 | Goalkeeper | Columbus, Ohio | Brown University
A graduate transfer from Brown, Cipicchio had a great career at Brown where he started in 19 of 20 contests he saw action in, including a career-high 17 matches his final season. Cipicchio notched an impressive .77 goals against average with a .797 save percentage. His record was a solid 8-6-3 and tallied six shutouts with just 14 goals allowed. He played a pivotal role in the Bears’ first winning season since the 2015 campaign. 
 
O’Keefe on Cipicchio
"A GK who will graduate from Brown University in May with his undergraduate degree.  He has one year left to play and will be doing a one year MBA program here while playing for us this Fall.  He comes in with high experience having come up in the Columbus Crew USSDA academy and being the full-time starter last year for Brown His winning mentality and maturity will have an immediate and long-lasting impact on our program."
 
Alex Hernandez | 5’6 | Midfielder | Asheboro, N.C. | Asheboro
Did his damage playing on the club circuit where he shined under Adam Reeke and Andy Butler at USSDA Fusion. He scored a total of 25 goals in three seasons including a career-high of 12 scores in the 2014-15 season. Hernandez helped lead his team to a national cup final in 2014 on top of an ODP first team selection in 2014. His effort didn’t go unnoticed where he was a National Training Center Invite all four years. While at Asheboro High School, he excelled off the field as he accumulated an impressive 4.67 GPA, was a junior Marshall and posted straight-A’s his freshman, junior and senior year. Also, he was 18th in his senior class, was a youth leader for the Sons of King Ministry, a volunteer in the Special Olympics and a young life participant. Hernandez was born on Sept. 16, 2000. He is the son of Silvia Karina Hernandez and has six siblings (four sisters, two brothers).
 
O’Keefe on Hernandez 
"Alex is a talented midfielder with the versatility to play in any MF role coming out of the NC Fusion USSDA Academy.  He has excellent quickness and technical ability to carry the ball, pass it or get off shots.  He has a great work ethic and attitude.  We look for Alex to come in and help continue to establish a style of play with his high soccer IQ."
 
Camden Holbrook | 6’2 | Forward | Cary, N.C. | Green Hope High School
Playing under the tutelage of David Corsbie, Holbrook amassed several big-time awards in his high school at Green Hope including the most recent North Carolina High School Gatorade Player of the Year last season. After being named all-conference in his sophomore campaign, Holbrook had a breakout junior year where he was named Conference Player of the Year, first team all-conference, first-team all-region, and state. In four years, he tallied 31 goals and 10 career assists. He played his club ball with Parker Cross on the U-19 NCFC Academy under John Bradford. Born on Jan. 2, 2000, Holbrook is the son of Jay and Michelle Holbrook. He has two siblings, MacLean and Catherine. 
 
O’Keefe on Holbrook
"He is a tall, athletic and versatile player coming out of the NCFC USSDA academy, and can make significant contributions in the attacking third.  He has scored and helped create goals at every level, and we look forward to him doing the same here in Boone over his four years." 
 
Jacob Madden | 6’2 | Goalkeeper | Round Rock, Texas | Lonestar SC USSDA Academy
Madden played his ball with the Lonestar SC USSDA Academy under Ron Dennie. Madden is a stout goalkeeper that kept opponents in their tracks. Madden spearheaded Lonestar’s U-18 team to its best record in club history including a No. 1 ranking in the country for multiple weeks. The future Mountaineer posted a 13-4-2 mark in 19 starts. He ended the season with five shutouts, a plus-14 goal difference, and a winning .680 winning percentage. Born on Aug. 25, 1999, Madden is the son of Stephen and Kathy Madden. He has four siblings, Hannah, Zachary, Leah, and Josiah. 
 
O’Keefe on Madden
"He is a GK who has an excellent pedigree coming out of Lonestar SC USSDA Academy.  Jacob is athletic, has great feet, ability to make routine and spectacular saves. As a starter last year, his team was ranked in the top 10.  He has a winning mentality and will do whatever is necessary to make a save and get a result for his team."
 
Mason Robicheaux | 6’2 | Defender | Mandeville, La. | St. Paul’s School
From the Bayou in Mandeville, the future Mountaineer endured a successful high school career both individually and as a team with a national powerhouse in St. Paul’s. In 2017, he was named to the Great Western Lotto All-Tournament Team and then earned a nod on the 2018 Louisiana Athletic Association All-Star squad. Robicheaux helped St. Paul’s capture two state champions on top of a No. 1 ranking in the country according to maxpreps.com. The 2018 signee amasses a stellar stat line of 15 goals and 18 assists as a defender. Playing for the CYSA Gunners in club ball, he was a team captain and a three-time Louisiana State Champion while competing in the Southern Regional Tournament for three consecutive seasons. 
 
O’Keefe on Robicheaux
"Mason is an athletic and technically gifted versatile player who can play in the MF or the back line coming out of the high-powered St. Paul's high school program. He is looking to captain the team for his fourth straight and program’s fifth state championship.  He has played club for Mandeville and Covington."
 
Austin Shuping | 6’0 | Goalkeeper | Chapel Hill, N.C. | Chapel Hill High School
Shuping is a two-year letterwinner at Chapel Hill High School where he played under Jason Curtis and also Adam Gal while at R.J. Reynolds. Shuping helped Chapel Hill advance to the NCHSAA 3A State Title game. He also started his freshman season between the posts at R.J. Reynolds. While playing for the NC Fusion Academy U-19 squad, head coach Adam Reekie selected Shuping to be a part of the leadership group. Before his playing time with Fusion Academy, Shuping played for the USA Gold Team that made it to the Jefferson Cup and CASL Showcase. 
 
O’Keefe on Shuping
"Austin is a goalkeeper with tremendous upside coming out of the NC Fusion USSDA academy program. He has been to several camps here at App State over the past two years and has shown a lot of growth and development each time we saw him. He has shot-stopping ability and demonstrated great leadership on and off the field."
 
Wyatt Williams | 6’4 | Defender | Wilmington, N.C. | John T.Hoggard/Wilmington
All through high school and club ball, Williams and his teams have been nothing short of triumphant. Williams was a three-time all-conference member while being named all-region as a senior and a two-time honoree of the Wilmington Star-New All-Area team. He showed excellent leadership on and off the field as he was named the team captain in his senior campaign. He improved every year since his sophomore season, scoring a combined eight goals in his junior and senior campaigns. En route to a 21-2-1 record and 13-0-1 conference mark, his high school was an eastern regional semifinalist and a MEC champion. In his junior senior, he notched a personal-high four scores and helped qualify for the state tournament. Playing his club ball for the Wilmington Hammerheads, he contributed to a state cup title in 2016 and was a Disney Showcase finalist on top of capturing the 2016 Jefferson Cup championship. In 2017, he added more team hardware with a Cup Group title. Not only is Williams successful on the field, but he is successful off the field where he has a whopping 4.8 GPA, is part of the Beta Club and the National Honor Society. Also, he the Spanish Club President. His sister, Bailey, is the catcher at Emory and Henry. His other sister, Lindsey, plays soccer at Carson-Newman. Williams was born on March 31, 2000. He is the son of Greg and Peggy Williams. Wyatt has two siblings, Bailey and Lindsey. 
 
O’Keefe on Williams
"Wyatt is a 6'4 defender with a tremendous air game and potential to become a force in the Black and Gold over his four years.  He has a good passing range and is a stellar 1v1 defender.  Wyatt captained his John T. Hoggard high school team to the fourth round while winning an NC State Cup championship in 2016.  He is coming from the 99 Wilmington Hammerheads which is coached by Zach Haines.  He is the definition of a student-athlete participating in the International Baccalaureate program at Hoggard while playing his soccer at a very high level." 
 
Ibrahim Zaitawi | 5’8 | Midfield | Lexington, N.C. | Ledford High School
Zaitawi played his soccer at Ledford High School and his club ball under Adam Reekie for NC Fusion. Zaitawi was born on Aug. 27, 2000, and his the son of Amal Salah. He has two siblings, Eassa and Layla. 
 
O’Keefe on Zaitawi
"Ibrahim is a versatile midfielder who can also drop a line deeper if needed.  He is coming out of the NC Fusion USSDA academy. He is a tenacious player that does not back down from anything.  He also has technical ability to make plays and not just break them up.  He has great potential to lead and will do so from day one on campus with his tremendous work rate and competitive spirit. He has great ambition and has been taking a full load of college-level course." 
Photo Courtesy: Jeffrey Springs, App State Athletics