Trojans begin 2020 season

Published 7:11 pm Thursday, February 13, 2020

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Baseball is back at Riddle-Pace Field this evening when the Troy Trojans host Northern Kentucky in the 2020 season opener.

The Trojans will host the Norse in a four-game series that will be spread out over the next three days.

After opening up on Friday night, the Trojans and the Norse will play a doubleheader on Saturday before closing out the series on Sunday afternoon.

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The opening series begins a season that will feature a schedule that will include teams from the Southeastern Conference, the Big Ten Conference, Conference USA and more.

“This is my fifth year as a head coach and I really believe that we have done some things to be in position to really challenge and do some great things,” head coach Mark Smartt said. “We have one of the more challenging schedules this year than we have in some years past. We play several games against quality teams.”

The non-conference slate will feature plenty of in-state rivals including Alabama at Birmingham, Jacksonville State, Samson, Alabama and Auburn.

Along with Alabama and Auburn, the Trojans will also face and host SEC and national power Arkansas in a two-game midweek series.

“Arkansas has been to the College World Series the last two years and is coming back to Troy for the first time in quite a while,” Smartt said. “We are excited to have them. We are going down to Florida and that’s the first time we have been down there. They’re a perennial World Series team. We have some really good teams coming in.”

The Trojans will officially begin conference play on March 13 on the road against Georgia Southern. It will be the first of 30 conference games for the Trojans this season.

“The conference schedule is brutal with the 30 games,” Smartt said. “I think our team will be prepared for it. Does that mean we are going to play well and win? We’ll see, but I know they will not be overwhelmed with the challenges of the schedule.”

The Trojans were picked to finish fourth in the SBC Eastern Division. Smartt believes the traditional powers will once again threaten for the top spot, but if things go well he believes his team could be challenging for the title as well.

“Coastal Carolina has either won the regular season or the tournament in their two years in the league,” Smartt said. “They are the team to beat. We have work in front of us to catapult past them. You have the regular guys: South Alabama, Georgia Southern, Coastal Carolina then you have Lafayette and Arkansas State. The thing about the Sun Belt is really simple; from the first pitch to the last out of the Sun Belt Conference season, if you play bad you lose. You better be ready every time you tee it up.

“I really think our team has the makings of a team that can challenge to get to the top of the league. We still have some things to figure out, but from an ability stand point, we have a real shot.”