Sunday, June 13, 2021

Lady Trojans hope to build on tough season

The Western News | June 4, 2021 7:00 AM

After a shaky start, the Troy softball team rounded a corner and closed out their season with a 4-19 record.

Head coach Keith Haggerty recalled how the team kicked off the year battling inexperience. The squad had one returning senior with two years of varsity experience, two juniors and a senior with more limited starting experience and a couple sophomores who had practiced with the team before. The rest of Troy’s 14 girls were new to the diamond.

During the first half of the season, the Lady Trojans often struggled to get runners around the bases and complete plays. Troy fell 24-0 to Florence Carlton on April 2. The next week, Thompson Falls built an early lead and secured a 24-6 win. The Lady Trojans saw some success against Priest River, with a narrow 27-26 loss at the end of March and a 29-9 win in mid-April.

Haggerty said the team reached a turning point after losing twice to Eureka. During an April 6 home game, the Lady Trojans built an early 4-2 lead against the Lady Lions but ultimately fell 34-11.

“The wheels just came off,” said Haggerty.

The Lady Trojans saw roughly the same result after traveling to play Eureka. Talking with the players on their bus ride back to Troy, Haggerty said the team decided to make a change. From then on, the Lady Trojans rapidly improved in their hitting and fielding.

During an April 24 doubleheader, the Lady Trojans locked down Bonners Ferry with 29-4 and 26-2 wins. Seniors Talise Becquart and Paige Burger led Troy at the plate against the Lady Badgers. Burger secured six hits and 11 RBIs and Becquart saw eight hits between both games. The team’s two seniors also were the only players to hit over-the-fence home runs this season.

Haggerty said the Lady Trojans would miss both Becquart and Burger next season. Becquart, a staple on the team, emerged as a leader during the year.

While this season might have been Burger’s first with the Lady Trojans, Haggerty said she worked hard over the past three months and saw great improvement.

Troy’s season ended on May 18 with a 10-0 loss to Loyola in their divisional play-in game. The week prior, the Lady Trojans nearly secured a win against Loyola, falling 8-7 in the opening game of a doubleheader.

A significant stumbling block for the Lady Trojans proved to be their lack of offseason practice. Unlike many teams in the league, Troy does not have a summer ball squad. This has meant the Lady Trojans are often forced to relearn the fundamentals during season games. The dearth of playing time has especially shown in Troy’s pitching abilities, as it is critical for pitchers to work on their arms year-round.

Haggerty said he is working to attract players to summer training sessions to help them keep their skills sharp. Troy may also organize scrimmages with a squad of Sandpoint players. While the matches might not be full-on competitions, Haggerty said playing against Sandpoint would be beneficial to future Lady Trojans.

Looking ahead to next year, Haggerty said the squad is hoping to attract a new catcher and shortstop. He expects the team’s entire outfield to return.

To remedy Troy’s pitching troubles, Haggerty said he has heard from a seventh-grader who expressed interest in training throughout the year.