Five Appalachian State Baseball Players Announce Fifth-Year Returns
Five App State Baseball student-athletes have announced plans to return to Boone for the 2023 season, exercising their additional year of eligibility granted by the NCAA in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Receiver Hayden Cross, infielder Luke Drumheller, left-handed pitcher Eli Ellington, infielder Andrew Terrell and left-handed pitcher Tyler Tuthill will all return to App State next season.
“When you go through end of year meetings with guys, and talk with individual guys about what they want to accomplish and what they’ve accomplished, a lot of things really resonated in [them saying]”Coach, I’m coming back here to win a championship,” App State head coach Kermit Smith said. “They don’t just come back to come back. They come back here to win a championship and leave this place better than they found it.
Cross was named a second-team All-Sun Belt selection at catcher in 2022, following a year in which he led the Mountaineer hitters in on-base percentage (.399) and batting average (.305) while being tied for team leader in RBIs (33) and ranking ninth in the Sun Belt with his team-high 16 doubles. He ranked second on the team in hits (.429), hits (54) and total bases (76). The native of Sanford, North Carolina finished the season with 15 multi-hit games, only 14 no-hitter games, in addition to sending off 15 runners behind the plate.
In four seasons with the Black and Gold, Drumheller played in 172 games and had 200 hits, including 54 for extra bases. In 2021, Drumheller was named a first-team All-Sun Belt selection at second base, capping a season in which he led Sun Belt second basemen with 36 RBIs while also ranking in both first in batting average (.285) and slugging (.425) in the regular season. His five homers led full-time second basemen.
Ellington joined the Mountaineers in 2021 and quickly took on the closer role, finishing the season with five saves, tied for seventh in the Sun Belt. In the Sun Belt Tournament against Texas State that year, he went three scoreless innings and struck out four batters to help the Mountaineers to a 1–0 victory – the program’s first victory in the Sun Belt Tournament. Ellington has been used as both a starter and a reliever in 2022, going at least two innings in nine of his 19 appearances. His season was highlighted when he combined with Caleb Cross for a UT Arlington hit on May 14.
The ultimate utility player in 2021, Terrell has held seven different positions for App State, all without making a mistake, and was one of 17 players nationwide to make it onto the John Olerud Watch List. Two-Way Player of the Year. In 2022, Terrell led the Mountaineers in walks (35) and runs scored (44) while establishing himself as a primary third baseman. He played and started in 51 of the team’s 53 games.
A Friday night starter since the end of the 2019 season, Tuthill returns to the Mountaineer rotation with 44 starts to his name. He was named a 2021 All-Sun Belt first-team selection, finishing the season with a 3.32 ERA, including a 1.59 mark against league opponents during the regular season. He also led the Sun Belt and ranked 10th nationally in fewest hits allowed per nine innings and held opposing batters to a .160 league average.
Referencing this group’s determination to win a Sun Belt title, Smith added, “When you hear that start resonating from guy to guy, usually that kind of filter filters out even some guys who aren’t yet. the. I like what we have coming up, in terms of our recruiting class, but the mix of what they’re doing and why they’re getting into it is probably the thing I’m most excited about.