Monday (not so) Quick Hits – Baseball, Basketball and Softball
Published 1:28 pm Monday, February 27, 2012
It was a big weekend for Troy athletics. Baseball lost 2 of 3 to a quality opponent in No. 28 Southern Miss, men’s basketball turned it probably its two best performances of the season against Florida International and Florida Atlantic, both on the road. And let’s not forget softball. The Trojans are off to an 11-2 start with no signs of cooling off.
1. Get ’em on, get ’em over, GET ‘EM IN – The Trojans were pathetic with runners in scoring position. My count through the first two game was 2-for-17. That’s an average of .117 in that situation. I wasn’t there for the Sunday game but the number got even worse. In the second, fourth an sixth innings, Troy’s first two batters reached but were unable to advance. The Trojans MUST score runs behind a pitching staff that has been as solid as any in the country through the first two weekends.
2. ERRORS KILL – Troy’s defense looked solid on Friday with Tyler Ray on the mound (thought they didn’t have too much hit hard at them). The Trojans went backwards a little in the final two game, committing four errors. Third baseman Danny Collins was charged with two on Sunday and now has five on the season in just 14 opportunities. In comparison, Tyler Hannah committed just five miscues all of last season in 166 chances at third. Troy also has several mental mistakes that cost them as well. I’m sure head coach Bobby Pierce will get most of that straightened out but if Collins can’t clean it up at third, changes will be likely. Collins has batted his way into the lineup with a team-high .360 average and with Pierce rotating designated hitters, that could be a destination for him.
3. Pitching wins – Though Troy didn’t win the final two games of the series, the pitching was good for the most part. I’ll have to break this one down a little further.
The Good – Tyler Ray and Nate Hill – Ray was outstanding once again. What more do I need to say other than look at his stats? 2-0, 13IP, 8H, 2R, 1ER, 3BB, 11K, 0.69 ERA.
Nate Hill has been superb out of the pen for Troy. He has made three appearances and allowed just one hit in four innings while he has struck out seven.
The Average – I put Thomas Austin in this category because of his mental blunder in game three which allowed runners to reach safely on a ball right back to him. Austin has been good for the Trojans thus far and looked really good in his first two innings on Sunday but then it all fell apart.
I would also throw Jimmy Hodgskin in with him. Hodgskin’s final line looked good in the end (7IP, 4H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 4K) but it was anything but smooth. Hodgskin was obviously mentally shaken a couple of times especially after walking a batter then getting tied up between throwing to first of to the plate. The play could have easily been called a balk. Either way, the runner advanced and Hodgskin looked anything but in control.
The Bad – Adam Purdy has been in a complete funk. He has made two starts and has thrown a grand total of 1.2 innings. Purdy was given the first chance at the Sunday starter role but it looks as though his time is up. Chris Fisher was also in the mix during the preseason and will likely make the Tuesday start for Troy this week against Samford. Another possibility for Sunday is Thomas Austin though that would take a quality arm out of the bullpen. Austin has the ability to produce a lot of ground balls with his sinking fastball that is a very useful talent in relief.
Troy plays a hot Samford team on Tuesday. The Bulldogs are 6-2 and are scoring runs with ease, outscoring opponents, 72-39. Game time is set for 6p.m. at Riddle-Pace Field.
The men’s basketball team played possibly its two best games of the season. The Trojans defeated FIU, 75-70, in overtime on Thursday then erased a 19-point second half deficit to knock off FAU in the season’s regular season finale.
Head coach Don Maestri said his team executed the offensive game plan better than they have all season. Maestri started Alan Jones in the final two games and it paid off. Jones scored 15 against FIU and 18 versus FAU.
The key to Troy’s comeback victory over FAU was the second half performance by Will Weathers. The point guard scored 28 points in the game but 26 of those came in the second half.
“Our players did exactly what they needed to do to win a game like that,” Maestri said.
Maestri also said he told the team not to think about anything other than winning the first round game in the Sun Belt Tournament.
Troy will play South Alabama in the conference tourney on Saturday. The game is set for a 6p.m. start. The Jaguars defeated Troy. 68-66, in Mobile on Jan. 29.
The Trojans 11-1 start marked the best in program history. Troy, now 11-2, lost to Purdue in the final game of the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The Trojans have been led this season at the plate by Sarah Shields (.395), Hannah Renn (.375), Hayden Gann (.361) and Michelle Hewett (.342).
Renn was named Sun Belt Player of the Week for her performance. HERE is the story.
On the mound, Troy is getting solid performances by its freshman trio. Sarah Thomas heads the staff statistically with a 2-0 record (1.47 ERA). She has pitched 19 innings, mostly in relief, and has dominated opposing batters. While her walk to strikeout ratio in even (15-15) she has found a was to escape trouble.
Ashley Rainey (3-1) has been outstanding as well with a 2.53 ERA in eight appearances – five starts – striking out 28 and walked just eight.
Jaycee Affeldt has also been effective in five starts. She holds a 4-1 record with 32 strikeouts in 33.1 innings.
Troy travels to Oxford, Miss., for the Red and Blue Classic and will face Belmont, Ole Miss and UT-Chattanooga in the opening round on Friday.