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Appalachian State University baseball met as a full team for the first time this year to begin the fall slate of practices.
Courtesy: TBD
Baseball Holds First Full-Team Fall Practice
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Monday 09/19/2016 (ET)

BOONE, N.C. — For the first time this year, Appalachian State University baseball came together as a team and took Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium for practice. The team spent from the beginning of the fall semester going through tough, physical workouts that consisted of sprints, curling telephone poles and lifting weights, but Monday was all about baseball.

“It feels great to be out here for the first day,” head coach Kermit Smith said. “The juices were flowing the first day of individuals but to be out here in a team setting is fantastic. That’s what’s frustrating about the individuals is you can’t sit down and talk as a team and there’s so much you need to communicate because you’ll see tendencies in outfielders and you’ll see tendencies in infielders, but you want to be able to talk about it as a collective group because it’s such a team sport. So, just to be out here is so refreshing. To be able to sit down in front of the guys and say, ‘Hey, this is where we are, this is our goals as a coaching staff and the absolutes’ and just talking about where we are as a baseball program and how we need to improve each day.”

The day started with stretches and light catch work before the team split off into position drills. Volunteer assistant coach Erik Lunde worked with catchers while assistant coach Justin Aspegren worked with Luke WattsReed Howell and others on the mound.

Coach Smith worked with the outfield in his first official practice at the helm of the Mountaineers, while assistant coach Britt Johnson worked with Matt VernonConner Leonard and others in the infield.

The practice then turned to more focused pitching work and defensive drills before the team worked on push bunts and making plays between the bases with live runners.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” Watts said. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back and we’ve got a coach who’s proven himself before so we’re looking forward to it and I think we can do some really good things this year as a team.”

The intensity escalated when the practice went to live batting practice with runners and men in the field. Several ballplayers launched cuts deep as they moved around the order.

Smith continued, “Like we’ve said from the very start, I think we’re trying to develop as many relationships as we possibly can with the guys, I think that’s the very first thing. The second thing is we’re just trying to evaluate where we are, what deficiencies we might have and what positives we have to, it’s the same thing. We’re just really trying to evaluate where we are as a program and by doing that we just evaluate each guy individually and seeing where we are and where each guy is at his best.”

The Next Episode

Appalachian State baseball will feature a new look with both familiar and brand new faces this year. Kermit Smith and new assistants Johnson and Lunde may look new, but Aspegren has been with the program since last fall. Together they will lead a host of hungry student-athletes this year featuring veteran seniors such as Vernon, Brian Bauk and Matt Brill, while also introducing a new group to Mountaineer baseball with this year’s incoming class.

Looking Forward

The Mountaineers will continue their fall schedule of practices before the regular season begins in February of 2017. The spring schedule has not been officially revealed and will be announced at a later date on appstatesports.com.

Notes

Head coach Kermit Smith is in his first year as head coach of App State Baseball ... Smith comes from Lander University and Belmont Abbey where he was the winningest coach at both programs ... joining him from Lander is volunteer assistant coach Erik Lunde and assistant coach Britt Johnson ... Lunde was a shortstop for Smith at Lander when they went to the College World Series ... most recently, Lunde was doing minor league ball with as a part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization ... Johnson served as an assistant at Lander and as the recruiting coordinator for Smith; he will do the same here at Appalachian ... Justin Aspegren served as an assistant coach and pitching coach for App State last year ... without the 2016 class having been announced, the team’s makeup is currently eight seniors, 10 juniors and 10 sophomores.



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