BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State’s Erik Lunde has been promoted to hitting coach, head coach Kermit Smith announced Monday.
Lunde spent the last two seasons as a volunteer coach for the Mountaineers. He played for Smith at Lander University from 2011-14, earned All-America honors before being picked in the 18th round of the 2014 draft and was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization until he retired from professional baseball in August 2016.
“I’m extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity,” the 26-year-old Lunde said. “I love working with Coach Smith and everyone on our staff. They’re extremely knowledgeable, and they’re great people. When you can find those two things, you’re moving in the right direction. That’s what I hope to continue to do in this position — continue to help us move in the right direction.”
A native of Pompano Beach, Fla., Lunde set Lander’s single-season record with 94 hits during his senior season, when he batted .369 with 14 homers, 20 doubles, four triples, 52 RBIs and 45 walks for a 52-9 team that reached the Division II World Series. He batted .305 for the Bristol Pirates of the Appalachian League in his first full professional season and ended his pro career with a 2-of-3 showing for the Bradenton Marauders of the High A Florida State League.
In joining Smith and former Lander assistant Britt Johnson at Appalachian State in 2016, Lunde is preparing for his third season as a member of the Mountaineers’ staff. App State is moving forward from a 2018 season in which it went 8-7 over its final 15 games in Sun Belt Conference play and hit 93 doubles to post its highest total since 2013.
The team’s top three hitters by average were freshmen, and the strong stretch to finish the season included 13 homers in a span of 12 games.
“Erik is one of the best young offensive minds that I have come across in my 18 years in this profession,” Smith said. “He has a great rapport with our players and a tireless work ethic, which will make this a seamless transition. Watching the role he played in the success of our freshmen last year has me very excited about the direction he will take another talented crop of newcomers along with a solid nucleus of returners.”