TROY — Boasting 11 returnees from a Division 1 district championship squad, the Troy High baseball team has high aspirations for the new season.
“We want to come out and defend our district title and win our league,” said senior Scott Mittelbrun. “What we accomplished definitely raises the bar for this year. For many of the seniors like me, we know this is our last year playing ball, so we’re really looking forward to it.”
Mittelbrun leads a crop of 10 seniors and serves as a team captain. Deployed as a pitcher, middle infielder and outfielder, he said he enjoys his leadership role and cited the upperclassmen’s bond as the team’s biggest strength.
“I was a captain last year too, but this whole team is full of leaders, so I just try to do my part,” Mittelbrun said. “Encouraging the boys is important, and we have a lot of chemistry with everyone getting along and meshing really well. We play really good in the field, always having one another’s back. We take pride in cutting down on errors, and everybody is able to put the bat on the ball.”
Mittelbrun’s manager praised him, calling him a respected and established leader.
“Scott is great in so many ways,” said coach Tim Mullen. “He came to us his sophomore year and has been our No. 4 or 5 hitter the whole time. He has a lot of strength, power and a great arm, and has really been our undisputed captain since he showed up.”
Mullen is excited to have a seasoned roster, believing the Colts can avoid the pitfalls that began last season.
“Last year, we felt good about the talent, but we were really young and made a lot of mistakes to show it,” Mullen said. “We started to jell in the middle of the season and play good ball. Now we have a lot of good guys coming back, and the biggest thing is our chemistry. Everyone fits together well, and we’re very confident.”
Troy started last year’s campaign with a 1-15 mark, but Mullen was proud to see the team bounce back and collect the program’s first district crown since 2008.
“It’s funny, but one of the best things about last year was that slow start,” Mullen said. “To keep those kids in it and believing in themselves is a very tough thing, but they did it. By the end of the season, for a team that had only eight wins to go into the playoffs and get that win was huge for our confidence.”
Entering his fifth season at the helm, Mullen called this group by far the most experienced he has led. He said the Colts put in a lot of work during the winter looking to defend their district banner.
“We had a really good offseason looking forward to this opportunity, knowing we wouldn’t have those same stumbling blocks as last year,” Mullen said. “We’ve been talking for a while now that we believe we can defend it. The last four years we’ve been in three district championship games, and last year we got over the hump. Now that we finally got that win, we bring a lot of guys back looking to prove it again.”
Each of the 15 members of the roster can take the mound, something their coach highlighted as a major strength.
“We have all sorts of depth, all our staff can pitch, and that always helps,” Mullen said. “This year compared to last, we started really slow, but now we’re just pounding the strike zone and playing really good defense behind them. It is nice to have firepower and be able to score 15 runs a game, but I’m very happy when I know we can go out every inning and get strikes, limit walks and play well in the field.”
At press time, the Colts were 2-2 and had not yet played a contest in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division. Mullen said his team’s checklist begins with trying to win the conference.
“Over our first few games, I’ve already seen vast improvements from last year,” Mullen said. “The Blue is our first achievable goal, and we are going to try our best to get it. Winning the league is the mark of being good all season long, which is something we want to prove. The bigger goal is districts and beyond. We now expect to win that district, but we have to start with the league, which is like a set of playoffs each week.”