JOHNSON: Troy offense living up to expectations

Published 11:07 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Coming in to the 2013 season, Troy pitching coach Brad Phillips commented on the Trojans offense by saying, “I wouldn’t want to face them.”

That has pretty much been the case for all of the opponents Troy has faced this season.

Projecting the production of a college baseball team can be downright impossible sometime especially when a league is as wide open as this year’s Sun Belt Conference.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Troy batters have lived up to the hype.

Heading into the weekend, Troy leads the NCAA in doubles per game (2.60) and slugging percentage (.481). The Trojans are second nationally in scoring (8.2 run per game) and rank in the top 25 in 12 different offensive, defensive and pitching categories.

Those numbers sound even more incredible when one takes into consideration that there are 295 other teams playing Division I baseball.

Individually, Tyler Vaughn, Logan Pierce, Danny Collins and Trae Santos have anchored the top of the Troy lineup and have been a wrecking crew of sorts for opposing pitching staffs.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that three of those (Pierce, Vaughn and Collins) have been named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week as some point during their careers at Troy.

Vaughn is second in the country in runs scored, Pierce has reached base safely in 46-straight games (the longest in the NCAA), Collins leads the Sun Belt Conference in batting average and Santos is tied for 13th in the NCAA with 10 home runs. Not a bat 1-though-4 in your lineup.

Complementing the offense has been the performances of the pitching staff and the defense. Troy pitchers are seventh in the NCAA in strikeouts per nine innings (8.8) and the defense is fielding at a .979 clip good enough for 10th in the country.

Maybe also living up to expectations has been head coach Bobby Pierce’s ability to put together a quality team year after year. Since 2003 (Pierce’s first season at Troy), the Trojans have more wins than any other team in the state with 382. Yes, that’s even more than the beloved Alabama Crimson Tide (375) and the Auburn Tigers (346).

It seems the Trojans have the tools to compete for not only a Sun Belt Conference regular season title, but a tournament championship as well.