Thomas relishing leading role in Trojan rotation

Published 6:42 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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Troy pitcher Levi Thomas began his sophomore season as the Trojans’ Friday night starter. By season’s end he was moved back to pitch on Saturday’s. With the 2020 season right around the corner, Thomas will once again be slotted in the top spot of the Trojan pitching rotation.

The Trojans begin the season on Friday, February 14 against Northern Kentucky and for the second consecutive season, Thomas will get the call.

“The mindset is similar to last year,” Thomas said. “I want to go out there and compete and do everything I can to give the team a chance to win. The excitement is at the same level or higher. I feel like we are  better team all around and I can’t wait to see what the year brings.”

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Brown finished last season 8-2 and surrendered 39 earned runs in just over 80 innings pitched. He struck out 87 batters.

Being the Friday night starter is the spot all collegiate pitchers strive to be in and Thomas is no different.

“If you’re a starter that’s your goal,” Thomas said. “You want to be the Friday night starter. That’s my goal and if I don’t make it so be it but whenever I get the ball I want to give my team the best chance to win.”

As for the rest of the rotation, Thomas is really the only pitcher designated for a certain role. Cory Gill will miss the early portion of the schedule due to an injury.

“For me the critical part is trying to match up who pitches when,” head coach Mark Smartt said. “We know Levi Thomas is going to pitch game one. We have injured Cory Gill who is a fifth year guy. Not having him in that Friday night role kind of bumps things down. We are going to have a new guy in the two hole and a new guy in the three hole. I’m excited to find out who is going to fill those roles.”

After battling an arm injury last year, Smartt believes Thomas is in as good of shape as he has been in his first two years with the Trojans.

“He blossomed as a young freshman,” Smartt said. “Started last year in the one hole, slid to two because we bumped Cory. He has really grown and matured. Great health. His arm feels better than it has ever felt. I am excited about the maturity he has gained in his three years. He has gotten better each year. He has worked hard to become a better pitcher. He has a great arm, but he has become a better pitcher. He is more equipped both physically and mentally to handle the Friday night role.”

Thomas spent the offseason trying to further develop both his off speed pitches as well as his breaking ball.

“Everything has come a long ways,” Thomas said. “I am mainly excited about my changeup. That is something I have never had before. Growing up, that is something I have always struggled with. The slider has come a long way. It has become a lot tighter and sharper. I am really excited to test everything out.”

Thomas will have his first opportunity to text out his new pitches on opening day against Northern Kentucky beginning at 6 p.m.