Starling looking to settle in role as Troy preps for league playPublished 9:55pm Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Troy starting pitcher Will Starling isn’t in a new environment, he isn’t getting settled into a new city or trying to fell out a new culture. He’s doing all the same things he grew up doing and doing them in the same place, Troy. The only difference is he’s not playing baseball in the Alabama Independent School Association like he did in high school at Pike Liberal Arts. Nor is he playing in the junior college ranks as he did at Southern Union, he’s playing Division I baseball at Troy University in the Sun Belt Conference.
I didn’t take long for Starling to realize that some things wouldn’t be the same. After a three-inning start against Florida A&M to open the regular season, Starling defeated Texas Tech in five innings of work. He then faced the No. 24 ranked team in the nation in Southern Miss a week later. Things didn’t go exactly how Starling would have liked but he got a big game under his belt. At that point, he was ready to move forward and settle in to his role as a member of Troy’s starting rotation.
“I got off to a slow start. It’s exciting to pitch in front of the home fans but I think I let my nerves get to me a little bit,” Starling said. “I wasn’t exactly nervous but more anxious. I had trouble locating my fastball in those first couple of starts which caused me some trouble.”
Starling pitched three innings in his debut on Feb. 15 against FAMU allowing just one hit. Against Texas Tech, he worked in and out of trouble pitching five innings giving up three runs on five hits In his third outing, the matchup versus Southern Miss, he lasted just four innings surrendering 10 runs on nine hits. That performance, however, may have helped Starling settle into a rhythm.
His next start – against Hartford – was a gem, five innings, three hits and eight strikeouts.
“I think that was a start that I can build on and start to settle down,” Starling said. “I started locating my fastball better and felt better on the mound.”
Now the Trojans head in to Sun Belt Conference play and they will need the hometown id more than ever. In-state rival South Alabama visits Riddle-Pace Field over the weekend and Troy needs to get off on the right foot.
“He’s a bulldog,” Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said of Starling. “He’s not a flashy guy, just pour it in there and attack the hitters. He’s always poised. Early on, it wasn’t that he was rattled; it’s just that he wasn’t throwing good. When you don’t let things like that get to you, you have a shot at getting over it and that’s what he’s done.”
Troy didn’t win its first conference series until mid-April last season and finished 28-30 overall. This year, Starling and the Trojans are looking to accomplish much more.
“Our goal is to compete for a conference championship,” Starling said. “The special thing about this team is that every guy will do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal.”
Troy and South Alabama open the three-game series on Friday with a 6 p.m. first pitch.