Troy softball opens 2023 season with Trojan Classic

The Troy Trojans (2-2) got the 2023 softball season off to a start this past weekend with the Trojan Classic, hosting SIUE and Belmont for a series of games.

On opening day, Feb. 10, Troy bested SIUE 4-0 and fell to Belmont 6-2 later in the day. A rematch with Belmont on Saturday was cancelled due to poor weather and then the Trojans defeated SIUE 2-1 before losing to Belmont 4-2 in extra innings in the final game of the series on Feb. 12.

In the first game against SIUE, Troy’s Jade Sinness drove D’Aun Riggs home with a RBI double, while Taylor McKinney drove Aayanah Hughes home and an Audra Thompson bunt drove Libby Baker home all in the first inning. Troy’s final score came when Baker drove Jade Sinness home with a pop fly in the third inning. Preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year Kelly Horne went 2-for-3 on the day for the Trojans.

Brantley native Leanna Johnson took the circle for the first time this season and allowed just two hits against SIUE in game one with five strikeouts and no runs allowed.

In game two against Belmont, Troy fell behind 4-0 in the first inning and was never able to recover. Belmont’s Kristen Green belted her first home run of the season in that first inning. Troy’s only scores came when Riggs drove Brantley native Kayden Dunn home with an RBI single in the third inning and Sinness scored on a wild pitch later.

Florida transfer Haley Pittman saw her first appearance in the circle for the Trojans, pitching one inning and giving up five hits and four earned runs with one strikeout. Baker pitched four innings and gave up three hits and two runs with four strikeouts. Freshman Olivia Cato also pitched two innings, giving up no runs and earning her first career strikeout. Dunn had six putouts at first base, while catcher Katelynn de Leon had five putouts and one assist.

In Troy’s second win over SIUE, the Trojans fell behind 1-0 in the first inning and remained scoreless until Horne drove Sinness home with an RBI single into left field in the fourth inning to tie the score. Baker then belted a solo home run in the fifth inning in what turned out to be the game-winning run. Sinness went 2-for-2 at the plate with a run in the win.

Johnson earned her second win of the season in the circle, giving up just two hits and no runs, while striking out four batters in three innings. Cato also pitched four innings and gave up three hits and one run with four strikeouts. De Leon had nine putouts and one assist at catcher.

In Troy’s second game with Belmont, the Bruins jumped out to 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning, but Sinness drove Riggs home with a groundball in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to 2-1. In the bottom of the seventh, Baker hit her second homer of the weekend to tie the score and force extra innings. Belmont scored two runs in the eighth inning to secure the victory, however.

Riggs led Troy at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a run. Johnson took her first loss of the season in the circle as she gave up five hits and one earned run with 11 strikeouts in eight innings pitched. De Leon earned eight putouts and three assists. Enterprise freshman Emma Faulk also earned first two putouts of her career at catcher.

Baker finished the weekend 3-for-6 at the plate with three RBIs, two runs and a pair of home runs. Johnson pitched a total of 18 innings over the weekend with nine hits allowed and just one earned run, while she struck out 20 batters.

The Trojans will host the Troy Invitational this coming weekend with a series of games against Kennesaw State and Murray State. Troy plays Kennesaw State at 2 p.m. on Feb. 17 and then follows up with a matchup with Murray State at 5 p.m. later in the day. The Trojans will rematch Murray State on Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. before rematching Kennesaw State later in the day at 5 p.m. Troy and Kennesaw State will close out the series on Feb. 19 at noon.