Spoke with head coach Bobby Pierce for some midweek stuff. Troy is off for Spring Break from midweek games, but it won't be a week at the beach. Coaches are using extra practice time to sort out inconsistencies for the Trojans (8-7), who open Sun Belt play at South Alabama this weekend.
"We've been close at times, but for the good portion of the season, we haven't been as consistent everywhere like we need to be," Pierce said.
***Cass Abercrombie (1-0, 2.25), a junior from G.W. Long High School in Skipperville, has earned the Sunday starting spot. Abercrombie threw six strong innings against a very good East Carolina team last Wednesday in an 8-2 Troy win. He hasn't pitched much in his career until this year, but has really developed.
"What I appreciate the most about Cass is not only the success he's having, but his work ethic over his career," Pierce said. "This was when his opportunities weren't going to come every week. What he did every day was show up to the ballpark with a smile on his face with the intent to get better. It's finally starting to really click for him."
Junior Ryan Brady has also worked himself into the mix for starting consideration.
***Junior catcher Brandon Brown has been out with a left thumb injury, and freshman Jake Harrell (1 HR, 10 RBI) has taken advantage of the opportunity, Pierce said. Pierce is hoping to get Brown back this weekend so he can have the option to use both catchers.
"Brandon got thumbed pretty good," Pierce said. "It got swollen and if you don't rest that, it can be something that's ongoing for the remainder of the season. In his limited action, we've had him taped up to the max."
"We've been pleased with Jake Harrell's progress, especially considering he didn't practice one day in the fall with his finger injury. He's shown the skill set that we thought he had, but his overall growth and what it takes to be a Division I championship ballplayer, there is still room for improvement."
Harrell, like most first-year catchers, had a huge adjustment in baserunning. At the high school, summer ball and even junior college level, you can pinch-run for your catchers to speed up the game.
"It's a big adjustment for most any catcher," Pierce said. "Division I coaches don't like that rule because you don't get to develop your baserunning skills."
***Second baseman Tyler Vaughn twisted his ankle on Friday and couldn't play, but did play Saturday and got a pinch-hit on Sunday.
***Tyson Workman, who was the leadoff hitter late last year, is day-to-day with an illness, but has fallen behind in the quest for at-bats and playing time as a position player at second base (he played outfield last year). Workman is one of the team's top relievers but is behind Vaughn and Jakob Nixon at second.
***Austin Golden has started the last four games at third, with Danny Collins at DH. Collins had made nine errors early on and Golden made one in four games, but he's holding his own offensively to stay in the lineup, Pierce said, and doing better on the routine plays. They are still working with Collins at third to work some things out and while of course his bat will be in the lineup, they're hoping to get him back on the field some as well.