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Denison glad to be back

After missing much of the 2017 season, Troy Trojan right fielder Joey Denison has never been more ready for the start of a season.

Denison, now a fifth-year senior, hurt his wrist before the season began and could never recover. After trying to battle through the injury, Denison was shut down for the season after playing 17 games.

After hitting just .232 last spring, Denison is eager to start again.

“I am super excited to get back to some competitive baseball,” Denison said. “It’s been a while. I have been practicing and doing everything full-go, so I shouldn’t miss a step.”

Denison dove for a baseball in a preseason practice and he admitted being frustrated that he had to sit out and watch his teammates in action.

“It was very frustrating because I felt I put myself in a great position going into my senior season to have a breakout year,” Denison said. “It happens sometimes. You roll with it and make the best of it.”

Offseasons are normally long for a ball player, but this one seemed a little longer for the senior.

“I thought it was never going to get here,” Denison said. “Watching all those games in the dugout hurt me.”

Over the next few weeks, Denison and the rest of the Trojans will focus on fundamentals as they continue to get ready for the season.

“We have to take it one step at a time,” Denison said. “We can’t look at the big picture now. We need to put ourselves in good position for opening day.”

The Trojans went 8-7 against in-state opponents last season, but beat both Alabama and Auburn. According to Denison, beating the in-state teams is a source of pride for both him and his teammates.

“I think that is a big deal for everybody in the community to see us get wins against people that are close to us in the state,” Denison said. “It’s big for recruiting whenever we go out and beat those people. We know a lot of the people we play against when we play Auburn, Alabama and South Alabama. It’s cool to be able to go in there and compete with those guys.”

The Trojans will be challenged right off the bat playing teams like Auburn and Florida State in the first month of the season.

“That is going to help our RPI,” Denison said. “Those teams are making it to the postseason. If we can get wins against them, it’s going to help us in the long run.”

Having a healthy Denison in the lineup will certainly help those chances and Head Coach Mark Smartt expects to have his right fielder healthy.

“We all saw last year he played injured for about a month and couldn’t perform like Joey Denison,” Smartt said. “He is healthy. He is in a great place mentally and physically. There is no reason for me to think he won’t be a key part of our lineup based on his past production.”