Troy softball faces No. 18 South Alabama to open SBC tourney

Published 9:25 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Eight softball teams converge on the Troy Softball Complex this week each with the same goal, winning the Sun Belt Conference championship.

Troy, South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, North Texas and Western Kentucky will battle for the tournament crown and the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

Troy enters the series looking to become the conference’s Cinderella story after trudging to a disappointing 20-30 regular season record. The confidence seems to be there however.

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“We talked in the coach’s meeting about this being the time of year when crazy things happen,” Troy head coach Melanie Davis said. “We’re hoping that we can put some things together and be that Cinderella story.”

The Trojans will open the tournament against a South Alabama team that has had plenty of rest heading into the week. Wednesday’s game with the Trojans will mark the first contest for the Jaguars in two weeks.

Troy and No. 18 South Alabama (41-7) were scheduled to play a doubleheader last Saturday but the games were cancelled after heavy rains left the field unplayable.

“That’s the plan (on catching South Alabama rusty from the layover). I’m sure they’ve thrown live since the last time they’ve played but we’re hoping to come out and take advantage of that,” Taylor Smartt said. “Hopefully, we can put some solid pitching and defense together and swing the bats well enough to make a run.”

The Trojans are well aware of the challenge ahead however.

“The three teams at the top of the league (Western Kentucky, ULL and South Alabama) have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. They’ve played really well this year,” Davis said. “It looks like we could have three teams make it to the NCAA tournament. I’m hoping we’ll be one of those teams with an automatic bid.”

South Alabama defeated Troy 9-0 on April 24 on the back of Farish Beard’s no-hitter.

Troy enters the tournament the No. 7 seed while South Alabama, the defending Sun Belt Conference tournament champion, is the No. 2 seed. First pitch between the Trojans and South Alabama is set for 5:30 p.m.

Troy landed three players on the All-Sun Belt Conference teams that were announced during opening ceremonies on Tuesday. Caitlin Ortiz and Hannah Renn were named the Second Team while Kacie McAllister was honored as a member of the First Team.

Wednesday’s tournament schedule

10am – No. 4 North Texas vs. No. 5 Florida Atlantic

12:30pm – No. 1 Western Kentucky vs. No. 8 Louisiana-Monroe

3:30pm – No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 6 Florida International

5:30pm – No. 2 South Alabama vs. No. 7 Troy