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Chance to shine

Troy's Cass Abercrombie (18) releases a pitch during an NCAA baseball game against East Carolina in Troy, Ala., Wednesday, March 7, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Abercrombie aims to earn job as starter

Around a curve entering Skipperville, Ala., is a baseball field located near an intersection. All roads at the intersection lead to either farmland or thickly wooded hunting properties surrounding the rural Dale County town.

One product of G.W. Long High School that once wore the dirt of that baseball field on his jersey is at an intersection of his own and will attempt to prove Small Town, U.S.A. baseball is alive and well.

Cass Abercrombie will make his third career weekend start for the Troy Trojans on Sunday. It will be a pivotal outing due to the fact that Trojans starters have a combined ERA of 12.60 in Sunday starts this season.

“Our coaches are looking for some consistency that we haven’t had,” Abercrombie said. “I still have to prove myself. I haven’t proven anything yet but I’m going to go out there and give it all I’ve got.”

Abercrombie, who is known for his blistering fastball, impressed coaches with a six-inning performance on March 7 against East Carolina. The junior held a potent Pirate offense to two runs on just three hits. In fact, East Carolina mustered to hit only one ball into the outfield safely.

The Louisville, Ala., native made 17 appearances in his first two seasons with the Trojans. His last weekend start, however, came on May 22, 2010 against team he will face this weekend… South Alabama.

A fleet-footed shortstop in high school, Abercrombie said there were challenges in making the transition to a pitcher-only role.

“Looking back, I don’t feel like I went into my outings with the right mentality,” he said. “I came in thinking I had to pitch like I played shortstop, I though I had to be aggressive all the time.”

Learning how to pitch instead of throwing was one of the many lessons Abercrombie said he has learned in his time with the Trojans. An adjustment to his breaking pitch has proven to make a considerable difference for the 6-foot-1 right-hander.

“Learning how to throw it differently and different times has helped,” Abercrombie said. “Before I was just throwing it up there, now I feel like I can bury when I’m ahead in the count and I can trust my catcher to keep in front of him.”

Abercrombie hasn’t seemed to let the thought of pitching on the weekend affect his approach.

“The biggest thing is going out and throwing strikes, I can’t put too much pressure on myself,” he said. “We have too many good players on this team. I have to trust my defense to make plays and they have.”

Head coach Bobby Pierce says he has seen tremendous growth in Abercrombie’s game over the past three years.

“He’s made great strides on the mound,” Pierce said. “The thing now is consistency. If he can go out and be consistent, he can be a big player for us.”

Abercrombie will take the mound for the Trojans in the series finale against South Alabama on Sunday. Game time is set for 1p.m.