Trojans enter the season with experience up the middle

Published 7:44 pm Monday, February 10, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Troy Trojans begin the 2020 baseball season this Friday night at Riddle-Pace Field. When they take the field they will do so with some valuable experience up the middle.

“There is a lot of experience returning,” head coach Mark Smartt said. “As a coach, what experience does for me is I now know what to expect from certain guys. The blend of experience and incoming talent gives me reason to feel really optimistic about the kind of ball club we can put out there.”

The Trojans will welcome both their players up the middle. Anchored by senior shortstop Drew Frederic, the Trojans will have a familiar face at second base in Reed Smith.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Having Reed back at second is pretty exciting for us,” Frederic said. “We have a lot of returners. Our whole outfield is back. That is pretty cool for us.”

Frederic enters his senior season with a .298 career batting average. He has a total of 18 home runs including 11 last season. In the field he has as a fielding percentage of 95 percent.

Entering his junior season, Smith finished last season hitting .232 with four home runs and 16 RBI. In the field he has a fielding percentage of 97 percent.

Although former catcher Chase Smartt has moved on, the Trojans will also have a familiar face behind the plate in Caleb Bartolero.

Bartolero hit .207 last season and had four doubles.

“We lose a four-year starter in Chase,” Smartt said. “Fortunately we have Caleb Bartolero back from last year who got some opportunities as a young freshman. His ability level is equal to or better than Chase. He doesn’t offer the experience yet. He’s going to get it. He is a very skilled catch and throw guy and he can really swing the bat. He just has to play.”

Despite welcoming back experience up the middle, the Trojans will have new players at the both the corner infield positions.

“We have a new third baseman and new first baseman,” Smartt said. “Those are the positions that are going to make or break us because they don’t have experience yet.”

Fifth year player Hunter Mercer and freshman William Sullivan will split time at first base.

The 6”5’ freshman has the potential to be a weapon in the Trojan offense.

“He is going to get a shot early to make an impact,” Smartt said. “30 years in, off the bat, he’s as good as I have ever seen. He can impact the ball as good as anybody we have ever had here.”

Austin Garofalo will man the hot corner at third base. Garofalo played up the middle last season. Junior college transfer Easton Kirk will also see time at third base.

Smartt believes this year’s defense compares to a team that recently advanced to the NCAA Regionals.

“This team mirrors our 2018 team in one area,” Smartt said. “Athletically, we are very similar. I’m not comparing this team with the 2018, but athletically we match up. When you are athletic you have a chance to be a really good defensive club.”

The Trojans will have their first opportunity to show off their defense on Friday night when they host North Kentucky beginning at 6 p.m.