Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pre-Season Practice Begins

Opening Day for the 2011 edition of the Troy baseball team is Friday, February 18 as the Trojans host High Point University at Riddle-Pace Field. Game time is set for 6:00 pm with opening ceremonies slated for 5:45. Everyone involved with our program has that date circled on their calendar as we begin another exciting year of college baseball action.

The first pre-season team practice will take place Friday, January 28 as the Trojans begin their final preparations for a successful 2011 season. The NCAA establishes the start dates for practice and the first date of competition, so every Division I team in the country will be starting on the 28th. Each program will have three full weeks of preparation before Opening Day.

We have spent the last three weeks in our off-season phase which allows each player to have two hours of coaching instruction and six hours of strength and conditioning. Our players have worked extremely hard both on the field and in the weight room as they prepare for the start of practice. During their individual work with a coach, each player works on specific areas of their game to improve as a player. This time is invaluable for each player as they are focused on their individual skills and their improvement.

The single most important area of concern for any coaching staff is the progress and development of the pitching staff. The time required to build the arm strength, stamina and durability of each pitcher begins during the off-season time allotted. They each have a regimented throwing program that includes time in the bullpen. The first priority is to maintain the health of their arm as they increase their work load. Opening Day is not the ultimate destination for the pitching staff as they their work load increases throughout the season. The foundation formed at this time will allow them to continue improving as the year progresses.

As practice begins, the focus shifts to the team concept and the development of the team model. Each player continues to work on their individual skills each day while implementing them into the team concept and the framework of the 2011 team. The group must learn to compete together in order to be successful. Success as a team comes from the united effort of all involved and everyone must understand and commit to that principle.

As our team begins their final stages of preparation, Coach Pierce and the coaching staff will begin implementing the team concept each day during practice and lay the foundation for success in 2011. Three weeks of pre-season practice will set the tone for the beginning of the season and we all are excited about this upcoming season. I look forward to providing insight and information throughout the year. GO TROJANS!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Just One More Week Before Baseball Practice Opens

Email Ricky Hazel

We've reached the end of another week and we are now just one week away from the opening of baseball practice for the 2011 season.

By NCAA rule, the Trojans can begin full team practices three weeks before the first game of the season. That means January 28 is the big day.

For those of us who are baseball junkies (GUILTY!) there are several big days in the next few weeks. First is the start of college baseball practice, then comes the day when Major League pitchers and catchers report for the start of spring training (Feb. 13 if you are a fan of the Cincinnati Reds).

After that comes opening day for the Trojans on Feb. 18 and we will be off and running.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been plugging away at the 2011 Troy Baseball Media Guide. Unlike in years past, the guide will only be available online. I hope to have the guide available online by the time practice starts next week, but I have been held up a little while trying to get information from some of our opponents this year.

Last weekend we took head shots of all the players and staff as well as photos of the seniors that you will see on posters, schedule cards, scorecards at the games as well as the media guide. You can see those photos, and even purchase some if you like, in the photo galleries on our web site. You can also find them on Facebook.

We are going to shoot the team photos tomorrow at the field and I'll get those loaded as soon as possible.

Leading up to the season I have already written a series of preview stories. We'll start posting those online once practice gets started.

All of the players bios have been updated online as well. You can see the 2011 Trojans roster to read up on all the players. While I was in a roster groove, I also got the 2011 Troy Rodeo rosters as well as both golf teams updated with new photos. You can see those on their pages on the web site.

Of course, baseball is not the only thing about to get started. Both basketball teams are in the middle of their seasons. The Troy men played a pair of great games at home last week, but dropped a tough one last night at Middle Tennessee. Both teams will be in action tomorrow at Western Kentucky and both games will be televised on Fox College Sports.

Both the track and tennis programs are off and running with their spring seasons and, like baseball, softball will be cranking up soon. Travis Jarome will be working with the softball team this year, as soon as his duties with women's basketball are over. I know that he met with Coach Melanie Davis yesterday and will have some season preview information up on the website soon.

In addition to my focus on baseball, I always have to keep one eye on the football program. As most of you read in the Dothan Eagle, Coach Larry Blakeney filled the opening on his staff by hiring Sean Reagan as the new quarterbacks coach. Sean spent two years as a graduate assistant here at Troy before going with Neal Brown to Texas Tech last year.

The next big event for the Troy football program will come on Wednesday, February 2, which is National Signing Day.

There was also news this week that the Trojans will hold a scrimmage during spring practice in Phenix City. The Trojans are scheduled to open spring practice on Feb. 23 and will hold the first of three spring scrimmages on Thursday, March 3, prior to releasing the squad for spring break.

After the break, the team will return to practice on March 14 with the scrimmage in Phenix City set for 2 p.m. on March 19. Spring practice will continue the next week with the final "T-Day" scrimmage set for March 26 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in conjunction with the University's spring reunion weekend.

I will not be able to make it to Phenix City for the scrimmage that day. In addition to a home baseball game that evening against South Alabama, my former graduate assistant, and former Troy punter, Jason Wright, is getting married that same day in Prattville.

Remember to tune in on Sunday if you get Fox Sports Arizona for the Eastham Energy All-Star Game, which will be played in Tempe, Ariz. Former Trojans DuJuan Harris and Mario Addison will play in that game. Addison also was added for the NFLPA Game (Texas vs. USA) in San Antonio on Feb. 5.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Liz Balkcom's Women's Golf Blog

Welcome to the Spring Season of 2011. I am proud to be a Troy Trojan!

I must say, I have been talking with all of the girls and we are ready to jump on this season.

Workouts have already started back up and we are pushing ourselves to be in the best shape we can be in. We are focusing on our balance, building our core, and we are conditioning hard.

We have come together as a team and set goals. We each have individual goals, such as in the classroom, on the course, or our mental game control. We know that if we can complete our highest individual goals, then our team is going to be successful. The women’s golf team is on a mission to win!

Senior, Annalies Anderson said it best - “I am not going to let anyone rain on my parade. It’s my last season. I will be remembered, and I will go out with a bang.”

The weather outside maybe cold, but our season has started and everyone is on fire to compete.

I am looking forward to this spring season because after all, it is my last. I do not know what the future holds, but with a good attitude and a lot of hard work; it can only end well!

Friday, January 7, 2011

College Football Season Reaches Finish Line

E-Mail Ricky Hazel

I had intended to write a blog entry a while back, but the New Orleans crud has had a hold of me for better than three weeks now. There is nothing like going to a bowl game and getting sick, especially when the illness carries over for weeks.

But, being at home under a blanket with cough drops and a box of tissues gave me a chance to watch just about every bowl game. Obviously, Troy's victory over Ohio in New Orleans was a high point to bowl season, but there have been other great games as well.

I can't help but offer congratulations to FIU for their last-second victory over Toledo in the Little Caesars Bowl. I don't think there is any doubt that game was one of the two or three most exciting of the entire bowl season, right there with TCU's Rose Bowl victory and, in a strange way, UNC's overtime win over Tennessee.

There are still four games left to play, including the big one on Monday. After that is all-star season. According to one website I found, there are seven all-star games this year, one of which was played on Dec. 18 in Atlanta, pitting players from the HBCU schools.

The other games start tonight with the Cactus Bowl in Kingsville, Texas, for Division II players.

The East-West Shrine game is Jan. 22 in Orlando, followed by the Eastham Energy All-Star Game in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan 23. That game will be televised by Fox Sports Arizona for those interested in seeing a pair of Trojans play. Defensive end Mario Addison and running back DuJuan Harris will take part in that game at Sun Devils Stadium on the campus of Arizona State.

The big game is the Senior Bowl in Mobile on Jan. 29. That game will be televised by the NFL Network, which will also televise many of the practices and other events leading up to the game. Troy's Jerrel Jernigan will play in the game this year, adding to the long list of Trojans who have played in the game recently.

I'll be there for that one as well, handling game statistics for the fourth straight year.

The last two games are the Dixie Gridiron Classic in St. George, Utah, and the NFLPA All-Star Game, also known as Texas vs. The Nation, in San Antonio. Both games are set for Feb. 5. The NFLPA game will be televised by CBS College Sports.

On the subject of bowls, the Sun Belt came close to taking the Capital One Bowl Challenge, but fell short last night when Middle Tennessee lost to Miami, Ohio. Former Troy Assistant Media Relations Director Jim Stephan now works at Miami and apologized for costing the Sun Belt the trophy, which went to the Mountain West Conference with a 4-1 record.

If you didn't see it, Troy punter Will Goggans received some national attention following the New Orleans Bowl because of his beard. CBS Sports said in a Tweet that his facial growth was the greatest beard in the history of American sports. He also got some attention on ESPN's Page2 blog. You can read that here.

Also, in the days after the Trojans' bowl victory, the Sun Belt Conference announced its list of top players, moments and plays of the first decade of football in the league. Troy was very well represented on the Tenth Anniversary All-Sun Belt team, with Jernigan and Dion Small on offense, DeMarcus Ware, Boris Lee and Leodis McKelvin on defense and coach Larry Blakeney as the Most Outstanding Head Coach.

Troy had two of the top 10 moments in league history with "The Miracle in Murfreesboro" in 2006 and the win over Missouri in 2004. Plays from those games also made the list of top 10 plays of the decade. Of course, Junior Louissaint's rumbling TD run against Missouri was on the list, and was joined by Smokey Hampton's 19-yard catch on fourth down when he landed on his head late in the win over MTSU, setting up the winning TD pass from Omar Haugabook to Gary Banks.

Of course, football season never really ends. January is all about recruiting which is something I an barred from talking about by NCAA rules. The Trojans did bring in six mid-term signees to start the semester. You can read about those guys in a story published by The Dothan Eagle on Dec. 27.

Drew Champlin, who covers the Trojans for The Eagle, also does a great job of covering recruiting, and everything else Troy. You can keep up with the ins and outs on his blog.

As of now, nothing is finalized yet with regard to spring practice, but I'll let you know when it is.

For me, the focus right now is squarely on baseball. The Trojans open the 2011 season just six weeks from today. I spent some time with head coach Bobby Pierce earlier this week and will be placing several stories on in the weeks leading up to the opener against High Point.

Of course, basketball is in full swing, but all of the spring sports will be getting cranked up in the coming weeks. Indoor track opens this weekend and the tennis teams will start play next week. Golf and rodeo will follow in early February with softball and baseball joining in.

Saturday, Feb. 19, is a date we all have circled on our calendar. On that day, both basketball teams will play at home against Arkansas State, baseball will play a double-header against High Point and softball will be in the second day of a weekend tournament at the Troy Softball Complex.

Any and all volunteers for help that weekend will gladly be accepted!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

In the Zone

Trojans Hit the Court to Open New Year, Game on CSS
Saturday, January 1, 2011
by Travis Jarome (

The Trojans will open the New Year much like they did around Thanksgiving and Christmas ... on the hardwood. The women take on Florida Atlantic in what could be an up-and-down game before all is said and one on Sunday afternoon. The rivalry started way before the two teams met in the Sun Belt, as they were once members of the TAAC - now the Atlantic Sun; with Florida Atlantic holding a 13-11 advantage thanks in large part to winning the season series 2-0 last season.

Sitting in Sartain Hall on a dreary and gloomy Saturday afternoon in the state of Alabama gave me a chance to look back and see things that aren't in the notes to share with you - the reader ... so here we go.

The Trojans are 1-7 in their new black uniforms they broke out of the box this season, with their lone win coming against Mississippi Valley State University Thursday night. The team is also 2-4 in their white uniforms ... the uniform in which they will wear against Florida Atlantic on Sunday.

The Trojans have three players on their roster this season from the state of Florida in Brooke Bowie (freshman from Winter Park), Kirsten Smith (junior from Pensacola) and Tenia Manuel (junior from Leesburg). Ironically, all three have had career games at one point in their career against a team from their home state - Bowie against Florida Gulf Coast, Smith against FIU and Manuel against FIU.

In the series between Florida Atlantic and Troy, when a team has won back-to-back games in the series they have done no worse than win three consecutive games in the series. The longest streak in the series is a deadlock, as each team won eight consecutive games at some point in the series.

The last time the two teams hooked up in back-to-back games in Sartain Hall, the Trojans won both of those contests. This will be the second time it has happened where the same team has hosted back-to-back games in the series, with the Trojans winning the only other time when games were played during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.

Those are just some general notes not in the game notes that you can find on in anticipation for the game on Sunday. If you are in the area, bring a church bulletin for free admission and see yourself on television later that night with the game being carried by the Sun Belt Network and shown on CSS and CST. If you aren't around the city or by a television, tune your radio to WTBF-94.7 FM as the Trojans look to ring in the New Year with a victory on their home floor Sunday afternoon.

Tip is set for 4:07 pm (CST) for television.