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Record Breaker: CJ Boyd pursues immortality in the Black and Gold

Max Sanborn
Senior outfielder CJ Boyd tosses a baseball up in the air. Boyd has hit 14 home runs this season.

App State baseball isn’t the most well-known sport on campus; it doesn’t have the illustrious history of the football program or the recent success of the basketball program.  

However, senior outfielder CJ Boyd is making the case for the baseball team to garner some well-deserved attention.

Boyd began his sports journey playing football, but after suffering a broken collarbone in his first game, his parents decided they didn’t want him to play anymore. Boyd and his parents decided he should play baseball.

Boyd enjoyed a successful high school career at Ronald Wilson Reagan High School in Pfafftown, earning all-conference honors his junior year, and was ranked the No. 18 prospect in North Carolina by Perfect Game.

After graduating high school in 2020, he enrolled at East Carolina, coincidentally rooming with current Mountaineers teammate, redshirt junior third baseman Austin St. Laurent.

He didn’t get much playing time with the Pirates, totaling 43 at-bats, six hits, one homer and two RBIs in two years, as well as 2.2 innings of work as a relief pitcher.

After the 2022 season, Boyd transferred from ECU.

“It just wasn’t a fit for me,” Boyd said. “It was nothing against anyone over there, it just wasn’t where I was happy and I wanted to be happy playing.”

After enjoying a visit to Boone, Boyd decided to transfer to App State, joining his younger brother, redshirt freshman pitcher Carter Boyd.

“When he got here he was a little more mature than he was when I left,” St. Laurent said.  “Especially in his playing ability and growing into his body a little bit.”

This increased maturity seemed to pay off in his first season in the High Country, as CJ Boyd got off to a good start.

He didn’t start the season at the record-breaking pace he would finish it in, but during the second half of the season, something clicked.

“Nothing really changed, just changed the approach a little bit,” Boyd said. “Backed up the timing a little bit, I was a little out in front early in the year, so I moved it back a little bit and that’s where all the success started.”

Boyd finished the season playing at a historic level, hitting 12 homers in the last 16 games. He finished the season with 17 homers, tying the single season school record.

“Funny thing is, I didn’t even know about that,” Boyd said.

He said Matt Present, an assistant director of strategic communications for App State Athletics, told him after the game that he tied it.

“I had literally no idea that I was even close to it,” Boyd said.

Boyd wasn’t just a power hitter last year, either. He had one of the most productive all-around offensive seasons in school history, hitting .364, with a 1.111 OPS and 54 RBIs to go along with the 17 homers.

Boyd’s success also had an impact on the rest of the team.

“I feel like it pushed us as a unit to go out there and play like he was playing,” St. Laurent said.

While they had a successful year, Boyd and the team felt they had unfinished business after 2023, when they failed to achieve their goal of a College World Series appearance.

“Whatever did happen went away as soon as we lost,” Boyd said.

Boyd and the team’s goals for 2024 are similar to 2023, to win their conference, win the regionals and super regionals and make it to Omaha.

In pursuit of that, Boyd worked in the offseason while keeping the winning formula he and the coaching staff discovered last year.

“I think it’s a lot of the same,” said Mountaineers’ hitting coach Seth McLemore. “He just shows up to work and because of that work, everything kinda takes care of itself.”

So far in 2024, Boyd and the rest of the team are having a successful year.

As of April 27, Boyd has hit 14 home runs this season, which is on pace to break the record, especially if he has a similar second-half surge to last year.

“I’m not really thinking about it too much,” Boyd said. “The second I do, I’m just gonna start striking out through the roof, probably break the strikeout record if I think about that.”

If Boyd can keep his momentum going, he could break the all-time school record.

Boyd currently stands at 31 career homers as a Mountaineer and the record stands at 33, meaning Boyd needs to hit three more this season to make history.  

Boyd has already written himself into the App State baseball record books, but if he can keep pace, he could go down in history as one of the greatest to ever wear the Black and Gold.

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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.
Max Sanborn
Max Sanborn, Photographer
Max Sanborn (he/him) is a sophomore Commercial Photography Major, from Indian trail, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
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