Trojan seniors leave mark on baseball program

Published 6:21 pm Monday, June 4, 2018

Following Troy’s loss to Duke on Sunday night, the Trojans said goodbye to nine seniors. In the postgame press conference, head coach Mark Smartt was able to say thank you personally to two impact seniors in Matt Sanders and Joey Denison.

Sanders and Denison were able to cap of their stellar careers with a historic 2018 season.

“I am really proud of these two,” Smartt said in the postgame press conference. “They finished their career with our jersey on and both had tremendous seasons and careers at Troy – record book seasons. Matt almost chased down the career hit record and set a career record in runs. Joey had 81 RBI – man, that’s incredible. Without these two, we wouldn’t have been here this weekend. I am really proud of everything this team accomplished.”

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Sanders was a four-year starter with the Trojans. He finishes his career .311 hitter after he finished his senior season batting .378.

“It’s been the most fun (I have had) in my life,” Sanders said. “That is probably what I will remember most.”

Denison had a historic 2018 season. The Troy native finished with a conference high .393 batting average and he broke the school’s RBI record with 81. Despite all of his success, what Joey will remember most is the relationships he forged with his teammates.

“It was just a great group of guys to be around,” Denison said. “It’s a bunch of guys that loved each other. We went out and won 42 games. I will take away the people and the relationships.”

Sanders and Denison were part of a senior class that helped shaped the Trojans into a 42-win team.

“We lose an incredible group of seniors,” Smartt said. “There are many of them – Cory Childress, Brody (Bender) – two of our four-year guys that have played meaningful baseball for us the past four years. Andrew Crane, Daren Osby, those guys have been invaluable to our team. Losing those guys is going to be a challenge to replace.”

More importantly for Smartt is the fact that these seniors have put the team and the future seniors in a place where they can be successful.

“They have put this in place for next year’s group to build on,” Smartt said. “I am proud to be the coach of this program. I am proud to be a coach of kids like this that represent us the right way. These two guys (Denison and Sanders) and the other ones with them will move forward and be very productive people.

“The junior, sophomore and freshman group saw how these guys did it and I am expecting that group – and the gauntlet will be laid down this week – to take the ball and run with it and the new kids coming in will have to follow their lead. I hope the cycle continues.”