Former Patriots return to Troy with new team

Published 10:04 pm Thursday, September 23, 2010

Will Starling, left, and Ross Hixon watch on during a baseball game. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

For the majority of their baseball careers, Will Starling and Ross Hixon played in and around Troy.

And even though the two former Pike Liberal Arts ball players have recently taken their talents to Southern Union Community College, their familiar faces were found on the baseball diamond at Riddle-Pace Field Thursday afternoon.

The Bisons were taking on Jeff State in the annual Troy State tournament, and taking the mound for the 1 p.m. game was Starling.

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“It felt good to come back and play,” Starling said after his start. “I had a lot of friends and family here to watch, which made it even more special.”

The former Patriot pitcher threw four innings, giving up just one hit.

“I felt good out there, but I think I did just OK,” Starling said with a smile.

“I still have a lot of improving to do.”

As for Hixon, the second baseman finished 0-1 with a walk, but like his teammate, his statistics took backseat because of his surroundings.

“This was a game that we both were excited for when the schedule came out,” Hixon said.

“It was a lot of fun to get back here and play in front of everyone – a lot of good memories here.”

Both players said the transitions from the preps ranks to the collegiate level have gone smooth so far.

“Nothing is really easy,” Hixon said with a laugh.

“Everyone is either better than you or at your level, so it really keeps you motivated to get better.”

As for Starling, he compared his role with his new time to a full-time job.

“It’s a lot of work, it’s tough at times, but I am getting to play the game I love everyday – which is alright with me.

“I am having fun out here to, I have great teammates,” he said.

The player’s stay in Troy, while appreciated, was short as the Bison returned home Wadley following its 6 p.m. game against Snead State. Both Starling and Hixon will be in action again for SUSCC on Sunday as they will look to help the Bison take down Northwest Shoals and Bevil State in Livingstone.