Mountaineer baseball gears up for 2023 season


Hiatt Ellis

Senior infielder Alex Aguila swings at a pitch against Coastal Carolina April 15, 2022.

Chance Chamberlain, Associate Sports Editor

With opening day for App State baseball in Hickory Feb. 17, this year’s Mountaineer team has one collective goal in mind:

“Our main goal as a team is to go to Omaha,” redshirt sophomore infielder Austin St. Laurent said. “That’s what we strive to do every day.”

St. Laurent made his mark in his first year in Boone as he was awarded 2022 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American. At the same time, he led the team with 60 hits, three triples and a .462 slugging percentage.

Expectations for head coach Kermit Smith are high as his team worked in the offseason on becoming more physical in the weight room and faster in effort on the diamond.

“You’ll see a team that competes on the mound, a really good defensive unit that’ll run out there, and I think from the offensive side, you’re going to see a physical group that enjoys playing the game,” Smith said.

The Mountaineers welcome 15 newcomers from high school, junior college and the transfer portal, along with returning players such as senior infielder Luke Drumheller.

“We have an opportunity to take this team to a higher level and compete for another championship,” Drumheller said.

Drumheller tied for the team lead with 33 RBIs and started all 53 games in 2022.

Even with many newcomers, they’ve quickly gelled together with the returning players.

“You wouldn’t walk out and say that’s a newcomer or a returner,” Smith said. “You would walk out now and say he plays baseball at App State.”

Numerous players have taken leadership roles and stepped up to become a unique player-led team.

“We’re player-led, and players have come out and really take leadership roles,” Drumheller said.

Last season ended with a loss in the Sun Belt quarterfinals to Georgia Southern. The Mountaineers finished with an overall 20-33 record and a 10-20 Sun Belt record. 

Heading into 2023, the Mountaineers have improved on off-season activities to adjust the program after coming up short in 2022.  

“So much of what we’ve needed to do, we’ve addressed,” Smith said. “Whether it’s coach Johnson out recruiting, adjustments we need to make in the bullpen, adjustments we need to make in our training, adjustments in the weight room and adjustments we need to make in the locker room from a leadership standpoint.” 

Along with the improvements within the program, App State baseball upgraded its facilities in the offseason. From a batter’s eye in center field to a new scoreboard in right field, it gives players and fans an improved experience.

“The fact that we get to see the stands full in two weeks is phenomenal,” St. Laurent said. 

The highlights of the 2023 schedule include hosting Big 12 opponent West Virginia March 14 and traveling to Durham to match up against Duke March 7. 

The Mountaineer faithful can tune in as 22 home games will be streamed on ESPN+ this season.