The Troy softball team is set to begin its 2017 season following Head Coach Beth Mullins’ second winning season in two years as coach.
The Trojans return 11 players while adding two transfers and four freshmen, including Grace Mirly, who was three-time All-State in her home state of Missouri.
With only 17 players, depth could be seen as an issue heading into the season. Despite this, senior Becca Hartley isn’t fazed.
“Although we have the smallest team since I’ve been at Troy with 17 players, I feel that we have the most depth,” said Hartley in an interview with the Tropolitan. “Our younger players have matured quickly and will be great contributors this season.”
Hartley, who has started 158 games in her college career, leads an offense that broke the school record for home runs for the second consecutive season in 2016. While Hartley leads the team in career home runs, she will be the first to tell you that home runs are not an integral part of the offense.
“We just want to have quality at-bats. The home runs and the base hits are out of our control. We can only control at the plate and treat every pitch the same, regardless of what happened the previous pitch. We want to make it that much harder for the pitcher to throw to the next batter.”
Mullins has instilled this approach in her players from the beginning and sets goals for the offense.
“We never talk about offense,” Mullins said in an interview with the Troy Messenger. “We are going to have a good mixture of speed and power. We always try to lead the league in doubles. We did it last year, and we want to do it again.”
Troy will be leaning on the pitching of sophomores Claire Graves and Peyton Glover. Graves and Glover were thrown into the fire as freshmen, combining for 169.1 innings pitched, and held their own with 13 wins to seven losses between the two. With a year of experience under their belts, Hartley believes they have continued to improve in the offseason.
“I definitely feel they have matured, and the experience is always helpful in the future for younger players,” she said. “They have worked on their mental game and learned how to trust their training in the game and just go compete.”
Mullins also feels the two will make strides this year.
“They went through the ringer last year,” she said. “They got a lot of experience, and I don’t think a whole lot is going to surprise them. They have been working hard and have gotten better. I have no doubt that we are going to be better on the mound, and they have a great defense behind them.”
Troy will kick off its season Friday in the Boca Raton Tournament in Florida, where it will play Bethune-Cookman and North Florida.