Being the defending Sun Belt Conference Champions who finished in the top 25 in the country is a momentum push for the Troy University Baseball team heading into the first day of spring practice.
After losing a large senior class in 2013 and multiple players to the MLB draft, questions arose about the challenge of how to match last season’s offensive statistics. Players such as Danny Collins, Trae Santos, and Logan Pierce were key hitters in the lineup last year, leaving big shoes that need to be filled.
Returning lead-off hitter and pre-season All-American, Tyler Vaughn, led the Trojans in runs scored and at-bats in his 2013 season with Troy. He finished last season as the second toughest player to strike out in the nation.
“I think as a lead-off hitter, my job is just to get on base, whether that’s with Santos and Logan Pierce and Danny Collins behind me, or different teammates like Nick Masonia, Trevin Hall and David Hill,” said Vaughn, a senior infielder. “Regardless, I think I’ve just got to be on base; put some pressure on the defense, put some pressure on the pitcher, and hopefully touch home as much as I can.”
New team members looking to play a big role in the Trojans offensive stats are junior infielders Nick Masonia, Trevin Hall and junior outfielder David Hall. Each of these players came from junior colleges where they each hit over .300 at the plate.
Another key hitter for the Trojan offense is senior catcher Justin Hancock. Hancock finished last season with a .300 batting average. He also had a .410 on-base percentage and a .460 slugging percentage.
“The pressure situations, that’s what you dream of as a kid, bottom of the ninth, you’re down by one run, you got to have one to score, full count, two outs… I mean that’s the situation that you’re looking for,” Hancock said. “I hope we have a lot of people that can fill those shoes and not just me.”
The coaching staff has realized they have lost key hitters in their lineup but know that is always a challenge as coaches. Their next goal is to get other players ready.
“Realistically, I don’t know that we can look to lead the country in doubles like we did last year, be in the top 10 in most every offensive category, when in fact there are so many new names in the lineup,” said head coach Bobby Pierce. “But that’s our challenge as coaches, that’s what we take on, and that goes back to August when we got our new group in and start working from that point to this point trying to make that happen.”
Pierce, along with the coaches and players, is ready to embark on the 2014 season and knows that with each new season comes a completely new team.