Trojans face South Alabama in midweek clash

Published 11:24 pm Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ashley Rainey delivers a pitch during a softball game in Troy, Ala., Tuesday, March 27, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

After handing Louisiana-Lafayette their first loss of the season on Saturday the Troy Trojans softball team has earned national respect – at least in the mathematically generated RPI rankings – which rank Troy 28 in the latest release.

“It should be a good motivator for our team,” Trojans head coach Melanie Davis said. “The ranking puts us in a good standing nationally so now we just have to work on our conference and play every game to the best of our ability.”

The Trojans finished the three game series against the Ragin’ Cajuns 1-2, and currently have a 2-4 record in Sun Belt Conference play as they prepare to host South Alabama Wednesday night.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Jaguars are currently 19-9 overall with a 7-2 conference record, and will be bringing in some solid pitching talent and experience to face the Trojans.

“We’re delighted to have South Alabama come here to play us,” Davis said. “Our fans have been very supportive of us this season and South is a good team with great senior leadership. Their pitcher Hannah Campbell is very effective and they will be a tough challenge. Our fans could play a big role in giving us the edge we need so I encourage everyone to come out.”

The Jaguars most recently went 2-1 in a series against Sun Belt team Florida Atlantic, allowing them to move into the number two spot in the Sun Belt standings.

Hannah Campbell, the Jaguars’ ace pitcher, has struck out 100 batters in 103 innings and thrown four shutouts in 13 complete games.

Although the Jaguars have a good defensive front, the Trojans will bring in a powerful defense of their own led by pitcher Ashley Rainey, who was most recently awarded her third Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week this season.

“Ashley is one of the hardest working players I’ve seen,” Davis said. “She’s a perfectionist and demands perfection both on the field and in the classroom and her work ethic has really elevated us to the next level. There’s really no limit to what she can do if she stays healthy.”

Rainey pitched complete games in Troy’s wins against Auburn University and Lafayette, and currently holds a 10-4 record in her 19 appearances.

The Trojans are also bringing a solid offensive game, currently bolstered by senior second baseman Sarah Shields, who leads the team with a .373 batting average.

Shields has recorded 29 hits for five doubles and three home runs, and will be a big player in the Trojans game against South Alabama.

“Shields has been working out hard and I actually nominated her for conference player of the week,” Davis said. “She’s hitting the ball well and getting good coverage on defense. She was a big factor in our wins against Auburn and Lafayette and when you have seniors who can produce like that it really helps out the whole game.”

After the Trojans face South Alabama they will face a three-game home series against Florida International starting on March 31, before going back on the road for a non-conference match against Alabama-Birmingham.

The Trojans will start the game against South Alabama at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Troy University softball complex.