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Mountaineers gear up for 2024 baseball season

Sophomore+pitcher+Everette+Harris+throws+a+curveball+in+a+baserunning+drill++Jan.+31.+App+State+is+looking+to+improve+on+last+year%E2%80%99s+winning+record+of+30-25.
Sam Fleming
Sophomore pitcher Everette Harris throws a curveball in a baserunning drill Jan. 31. App State is looking to improve on last year’s winning record of 30-25.

After a 30-25 season and a semi-final exit in the Sun Belt Tournament, the Mountaineers look to finish the job and book a trip to Omaha in 2024.

The Mountaineers’ hitting core will be led by senior outfielder CJ Boyd, who batted .364 in 2023 with a school-record tying 17 home runs, a team-leading 54 RBIs in 45 games. Boyd earned preseason All-Sun Belt Team Honors.

The Black and Gold also return senior outfielder and designated hitter Xavier Moronta, who averaged .339 with 17 doubles. Moronta finished the season with more walks at 34 than his 29 strikeouts on the season in 55 appearances.  

Additionally, App State added some reinforcements in the off-season to replace several key departures from the hitting core. 

These acquisitions are headlined by Rice first baseman graduate transfer Drew Holderbach and Gaston College infielder Adam Quintero.

Holderbach batted .266 with six homers and 30 RBIs in his lone season with the Owls in 2023. Prior, he was a two-time Division III gold glove winner at Marietta College.

Quintero is a junior who is originally from Monroe and started his career at William & Mary. He batted .399 with 10 homers, 17 doubles and 64 RBIs in his only season in Dallas.

The pitching rotation will have a new ace this year as the Mountaineers will have to replace MLB draft pick and school single-season strikeout record holder Xander Hamilton. Luckily for the Black and Gold, they return every other pitcher who played more than 40 innings last season. 

One of the top pitchers is junior right-hander Collin Welch, who played 43.2 innings and had a team-best 3.50 ERA with 34 Strikeouts in 2023 App State also brought in new pitchers to stiffen the rotation. 

Sophomore pitcher Everette Harris delivers a pitch at practice Jan. 31. Everette had a 4.5 ERA in his freshman year at NC State. (Sam Fleming)

Among them are sophomore righty Everette Harris from NC State and Cody Little, a junior righty from Palm Beach State College. Harris allowed a 1.89 ERA in four appearances out of the bullpen for the Wolfpack in 2023. Little started eight games for the Panthers, posting a 4.25 ERA and striking out 52 batters in 2023.

The Black and Gold will be led by eighth-year head coach Kermit Smith, who has led App State to 141 wins in his career with the Mountaineers. 

The Mountaineers’ non-conference slate is headlined by a visit to Power Five opponent Duke, who is coming off a 39-24 season and an NCAA Tournament Super Regional berth.

The Mountaineers’ conference schedule is headlined by a few different matchups against rivals such as a home stand against defending regular season conference champions Coastal Carolina and rivals Troy March 22-24 and April 12-14 respectively.

App State opens their season with a three-game road trip at Gardner-Webb Friday at 4 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Clay Durban
Clay Durban, Reporter
Clay Durban (he/him) is a junior digital journalism major from Asheville, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
Sam Fleming
Sam Fleming, Photographer
Sam Fleming (he/him) is a freshman Computer Science Major, from Greensboro, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
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