by: Devin Smith
Troy’s softball team received some unexpected rest this week before they faced the Evansville Purple Aces Friday afternoon as hosts of the Troy Subway Invitational.
The Trojans were scheduled for an ESPN televised contest against the No. 24 Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee on Tuesday evening, but an unfortunate rain delay forced it to be postponed until Feb. 28.
While the opportunity to knock off a ranked opponent was exciting for Troy, the rest does not come unwelcomed for Coach Melanie Davis.
“Well a lot of the kids are disappointed to not be able to go down and play a very good team like Florida State,” said Davis. “But I also think that we’re in the point of the year where being able to rest during the rainy weather and be prepared for two really quality days of practice on our dirt will be very beneficial for us.”
The extra time off will allow the team to work on some of the some of the weaker areas of their game from the past weekend. The team played well overall in the Bulldog Kickoff Classic, but had some problems communicating on defense and allowed a few stolen bases.
“We just have some young defenders on the field,” said Davis. “I think it will just take continues reps in practice and our defense will be sharper. It’s just something that comes with time.”
Despite the few mental errors, there were several players that excelled over the weekend.
Two returning players were named to the all-tournament team, senior Hannah Renn and junior Kacie McAllister. Renn was wonderful at the plate, finishing 6-for-13 (.462) including a home run and three RBIs. McAllister proved to still be a very versatile player for Troy, recording 19 putouts while playing from catcher, first base, as well as left and right field.
“Hannah missed significant time in the fall,” said Davis. “But she swings the bat very well and there is no doubt in my mind that she will have a great senior campaign behind the plate and with the bat in her hand. Kacie is probably the most versatile player I’ve ever had, we can literally put her anywhere. So I’m really proud of both those kids, those are two of our returners and we’re going to count on them for big performances throughout the season.”
Junior Taylor Smartt also had a good weekend, batting at .444 with two RBIs and a team-best .583 on base percentage.
“I was really surprised that we didn’t get a third member on that team,” said Davis. “Because Taylor had a very good weekend and some key hits and RBIs for us. She’s a real student of the game and it was a great start to her junior campaign.”
There was also a pair of freshman with notable performances in the finale against Tennessee State. Pitcher Rachel Rigney won her first complete game and designated player Brittany Russ notched three hits and an RBI. Rigney also earned a save against defending Colonial League champion Georgia State earlier in the weekend.
The Subway Classic will mark the first home game of the season for Troy, and the team is very excited for their first opportunity to perform in front of their fellow Trojans.
“I think we always play well at home,” said Davis. “Our kids love Troy, they aren’t here because it’s a big city. They’re here because the love the university and the local people and their teammates. Last year we knocked off three ranked opponents at home, and that is a big accomplishment at any level. So I expect us to play very well and defend our home turf, and the girls are very excited.”
Troy will open the Subway Classic against the Purple Aces at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon at Riddle Pace Field.