Troy wrapping up all baseball camp

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Troy Trojans are winding down their final week of fall baseball camp under new head coach Mark Smartt.

There are a lot changes on the horizon for the Troy program heading into the 2016 baseball season, none bigger than a change of manager. After spending the last 23 seasons as an assistant head coach for the Trojans, Smartt entered fall camp as the team’s new manager.

Smartt has spent the last six weeks experiencing his team through a different lens.

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“I have enjoyed the transition,” Smartt said. “We have a really good group of coaches on our staff. I am seeing things from a different angle for the first time. I am overseeing a few more things. I have really enjoyed it.”

The Trojans finished last season with a 30-25 record and although it’s still too early to gauge next season’s team, Smartt likes what he has seen out of his players in the last month and a half.

“I think it has been very positive to this point. I have been very pleased,” Smartt said. “Our team has gotten a lot better. I don’t know if we are a good team yet from an outside competition point of view, but I do like some of the qualities that our team has shown.”

One aspect of the roster that will be a point of emphasis heading into next year will be the pitching staff. The Trojans are returning two key members of their staff from a year ago in Grant Bennett and Lucas Brown. In 2015 Bennett went 9-4 with a 3.12 earned run average while Brown finished 6-3 with a 2.85 E.R.A both players will be relied on heavily in 2016.

“It’s always going to come down to how we pitch,” Smartt said. “Baseball is about pitching. If we pitch well we have a chance to be good. I like the fact that we have two guys returning from last year in Bennett and Brown. They have really good experience and both of them has one at this level.”

Another key member of the pitching staff may be sophomore Corey Childress who had great first half of his season a year ago.

“Corey has had a really good fall,” Smartt said. “He had a great start of his freshman year. He did hit a struggle like a lot of freshman do. We have every belief that he will move back into that role this year.”

The Trojans offense lost some thunder but 2016 could offer a lineup that is full of speed and athleticism.

“I like the lineup potential of our team,” Smartt said. “We are going to be able run a little bit, which will be a good trait to have.”

The Trojans have participated in a two scrimmages during the fall, both of them against the Ontario Blue Jays traveling team. The Trojans received good performances by Childress who struck out five hitters while allowing two runs on four hits. Matt Sanders led the way offensively by coming a homerun shy of hitting for the cycle.

“I really liked how comfortable and relaxed they were in our one and only outside competition,” Smartt said. “Ultimately as a coach you want that in the spring. We performed well and played well. I was really pleased about that.”

The Trojans will close out their final week of the fall camp with a weekend full of games.

At 6 p.m. Friday the Trojans will host their second annual Trojans in Disguise event.

Trojan players will dress up in Halloween costumes and play a light scrimmage.