Trojans confident heading into regional play
Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006
Today when Troy University steps on the field for its first postseason game in nearly a decade, the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles will be sitting across the field in the other dugout.
Not that it matters to the Trojans which team occupies the dugout across from theirs.
“To this group of guys it didn't really matter where we played or who we played for that matter,” Troy University head coach Bobby Pierce said. “They've been like that all season. They've been ready to compete with anyone at anytime. ‘Who do you want us to play? Fine, set them out there and let's play.' That's been the attitude this team has had all season. They believe they can find a way to win no matter who you put out there for them to play.”
That confidence is something that the Trojans (45-14) have developed over the course of the season. A season that started with the squad picking up wins in their first three games of the season only to drop the next six games.
Since their six game losing streak back in February, the Trojans have won 42 of their last 50 games, a Sun Belt Conference regular season title and a Sun Belt Conference Tournament title.
“I can't say enough about how proud I am of the way these guys fought back,” Pierce said. “Before we even threw the first pitch this season I talked about how good these guys were going to be, and that's something I never do. Then we got off to a 3-6 start and I'm sure some people thought I was crazy, but these guys never stopped believing and never stopped battling. They just have this tremendous confidence.”
According to Troy assistant coach Mark Smartt, who played on the Trojans 1986 and 1987 Division II national championship teams, the 2006 squad's confidence is not unlike that of the championship teams he was a part of.
“As a coach, it's been fun seeing these guys develop the confidence to win,” Smartt said. “In that regard, these guys are very similar to the teams I was fortunate enough to play on. Those teams and this year's team share a lot of the same intangibles. These guys don't care who they're supposed to play, they just expect to find a way to win the game.”
After being swept by the Golden Eagles (38-21) in March, there's nothing more that the Trojans would like to do than find a way to earn a win when the two teams meet today.
“For us it didn't really matter who we played, but we're happy to have another shot at Southern Mississippi,” Troy junior Josh Dew said on Monday after the Trojans learned the Golden Eagles would be their first-round opponent. “We didn't play that well in that series and they got the best of us. Hopefully this time we can go in there and take care of business.”
Troy shortstop Tom King is also eager to take another crack at the Golden Eagles.
“It'll be good to get another shot at them,” King said on Monday. “You always want to come back and get a win against a team that has beaten you like they did, but the biggest thing is just that we're in the tournament. That's what we set out to do at the beginning of the year and now we just have to go in there and play hard.
The Trojans and the Golden Eagles will square off today at 2:30 p.m. in Tuscaloosa.