3 things to watch tonight as Troy hosts Samford

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Trojans return home after a series with Southern Miss that went south in a hurry. Troy played well all the way around in game one, pitched well in game two but struggled at the plate. Nothing went right in game three.

Troy plays host to in-state rival Samford tonight at 6p.m.

Samford is a team that can swing the bat. They’ve scored 72 runs in eight games and are 6-2 on the season. The Bulldogs took 2 of 3 from South Alabama last weekend in Mobile.

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Chris Fisher (0-0, 11.25) will get the start on the mound. He looks to be the next in line for the Sunday starter role after the early season struggles of Adam Purdy (0-2, 21.60), so Fisher’s pitch count won’t get too high.

Troy’s offense needs to get things going as well. The team was dismal with runners in scoring position. That will need to change in a midweek game against a team that scores runs in bunches.

Here are three things to watch tonight:

1. Catchers at the plate – Troy doesn’t have many options behind the plate if Brandon Brown can’t get it done offensively. Heading into tonight’s game, Troy catchers are batting .048 (1-21). Head coach Bobby Pierce said he has been pleased with Brown’s defensive performance. Jake Harrell has three at-bats on the season, all strikeouts. Harrell, just a freshman, is not a guy Troy is going to lean on but proved in the spring that he can provide a spark. Blake Martz sat out the entire Southern Miss series for an undisclosed reason but isn’t a guy Pierce was looking for to catch much this season.

2. Danny Collins defense – Not to call a guy out but Collins has been less than impressive defensively. The junior college transfer has five errors in just 14 opportunities at third base. The good news is that his is swinging the bat well for the Trojans thus far this season, batting .360. There may be a chance we see a different guy at third tonight and Collins in the DH spot.

3. Bullpen – Pay attention to who gets work out of the pen. If Fisher struggles in the starting role, Troy could be forced to go with Thomas Austin on Sundays. That would create a bug shuffle in the pen. Everyone knows Nate Hill and Tyson Workman are set in set up and closer roles respectively but the Trojans had Austin set in a role to help get to those guys. Coaches really like his ability to create ground balls which comes in handy in relief with runners on base. Joe Hernandez, Garrett McHenry and A.J. Howard will be next in line in that spot. Cass Abercrombie can also come in and get an out or two.