The perfect scenario for any coach trying to recruit young talent is a player that is ready to go the minute he arrives. Someone with the talent who can perform without much of an adjustment period.
Appalachian State’s head baseball coach Kermit Smith has found some form of that in freshman relief pitcher Will Sprinkle. Sprinkle debuted against the Thundering Herd of Marshall University earlier this season where he finished with a 4.50 ERA.
“Will is a great guy who always stays true to himself,” Smith said. “He is using his God-given abilities and has used all the help he can get from our senior leaders and pitching staff.”
Sprinkle was the Central Piedmont Conference Pitcher of the Year, on top of all-conference and all-state honors his senior year at Reagan High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His team finished second in the Perfect Game World Series and made a final four appearance in the WWBA in Atlanta with his travel team, the EvoShield Canes.
Since his debut he has posted some impressive statistics, including two scoreless innings against Elon University and retiring 10 of 11 batters versus Troy University.
Thanks to his talent and positive locker room presence, Sprinkle has earned the respect of his teammates and the trust of his coaching staff. Under some incredible senior talent, it is safe to say Sprinkle is becoming a large part of the baseball team’s future.
“He (Will) is a great guy. He’s a great locker room guy and just a great teammate overall,” junior outfielder CJ Brown said. “He really trusts his teammates and the coaching staff, and more importantly he trusts in the process.”
Sprinkle recently picked up his first career win as a pitcher for the Mountaineers in a road series against University of Louisiana Monroe. Entering in the bottom of the sixth, he managed five strikeouts and two assists to clinch an important Sun Belt series.
Freshmen are not traditionally the most trustworthy players on any team, regardless of the sport. However, with injuries becoming an increasing issue in the dugout, Sprinkle has stepped up and proven he is capable of helping his team no matter the situation.
“Our coaches teach us to throw each pitch with the goal of collecting outs,” Sprinkle said. “My defense is behind me, and not only do they trust me with the ball, but they’re there to bail me out in case something happens. That makes my job so much easier.”
In the face of a team rebuild, it is easy to lose focus when faced with problems. With most of App’s baseball team consisting of underclassmen and transfer students, they are seeing their fair share of challenges this season.
Despite each obstacle they come across, the Mountaineers have found a way to rally together and grind out wins this season. With a strong locker room and a dedicated coaching staff behind him, Sprinkle is becoming a valued member of this team that is looking to form a brand new identity.
Story By: Garrett Wold, Sports Reporter