Freshman pitchers ready for challenge

Published 10:47 am Friday, February 17, 2012

After a 5-0 run through the field of the Southeastern Louisiana Lion Classic last weekend, the undefeated Trojans return home to host the Quality Inn Classic.

Troy, behind solid pitching from a talent packed freshman staff, knocked off everyone in their path including Big XII Conference opponent Kansas. The Trojans left Hammond, La., with an under 2.00 ERA.

“It was a good team effort,” head coach Melanie Davis said. “We have a young group that did well and grew a lot.”

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Troy will now turn their attention to No. 6 Missouri in the Trojans home opener, which is set to begin at 7p.m. at the Troy Softball Complex.

A victory of a top ten team would be an early season boost for the Trojans.

“It would be a big accomplishment,” freshman pitcher Ashley Rainey said. “We’re not expecting anything less.”

Rainey tossed 16.2 shutout innings in three appearances last weekend earning Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week honors.

Troy has two other newcomers that could toe the rubber against a veteran Missouri squad. Freshman Jaycee Affeldt and Sarah Thomas are also looking forward to a shot at the Tigers.

“It is really exciting to be a part of it,” Thomas said. “I would definitely want the ball.”

Fellow Canadian Jaycee Affeldt joins Thomas, a native of Alberta, Canada, on the pitching staff.

Affeldt pitched for the Canadian Junior National Team this past summer and brings big game experience to the Trojans staff.

“The level of preparation really helped me when I got to Troy,” Affeldt said. “You learn to be tough out there and slow things down.”

Affeldt is in the final pool of 43 athletes to represent Canada on the Senior National Team next summer.

Thomas says she remembers facing Affeldt once when she was younger but moved before they began playing at a higher level.

The move to Division I softball has presented its challenges for all three pitchers but have leaned on one another in the process.

“We are all learning together,” Rainey said. “We’re going through this together.”

Ball State, East Tennessee State, Nicholls State, and Eastern Kentucky round out the tournament field.

Ball State and East Tennessee State kick off the action today at 9a.m.