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June 11, 2013

Troy High back on solid ground

Calnen, Colts endure tough loss in regional but have program ‘back where it should be’

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Troy High's Taylor Schmidt delivers a pitch against Romeo High in a Division 1 regional game.

This was one of those losses that is sure to sting, and likely for awhile.

But buried beneath the heartbreak, the sudden end to the 2013 softball season was one main accomplishment Troy High coach Tom Calnen needed to see from his girls this spring.

And he did.

“From the standpoint that we needed to get Troy High softball back to where it should be, this season was a huge success,” Calnen said a day after a 3-1 loss to Romeo High in a Division 1 regional semifinal. “This hurt, this loss, but from that standpoint, I couldn’t be any happier with these girls.”

It was a year ago when the Colts, after so many district titles in a row, were ousted in the first weekend of the playoffs.

“When you have so much success, it can be tough not to just expect it,” Calnen said. “I’m not saying that’s what last year’s team did, but I think how things played out; it was a wake-up call, or maybe a chance to look in the mirror and remember what it took to do what we did.”

Facing Romeo, the general feeling was the winner would have the best path to the quarterfinals, and beyond.

The Colts took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, and the way freshman Taylor Schmidt was dealing from the circle, the one-run difference looked to be more than enough.

“She got the first two girls out in the seventh, and they were perfect pitches, like balls off the end of the bat,” Calnen explained. “I was tempted to go out there and make sure everything was cool before the last batter, but I didn’t want to over-manage, either. It was one of those situations where you just don’t know.”

Moments later, Romeo tied the game with a solo home run.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Bulldogs won the game with a two-run, walk-off homer.

“This is one of the toughest ways to lose,” Calnen said, forcing a laugh. “I mean, we did everything so well. The defense was great. Taylor pitched incredible the whole game. It really came down to not getting a big hit when we had chances to.”

Romeo went on to beat Hartland High 3-0 in the regional final.

Troy finished its season 28-10.

“These girls fought and competed to the end,” Calnen said. “We had our ups and downs, but they battled through everything to do some of the things I felt like we had to do this year. It was a big success.”

And it could be a preview of what’s to come.

Stellar all season in the circle, Schmidt is one of 12 girls who could return in 2014.

“We’re going to get at it,” Calnen said. “We’re going to have our banquet, then come together with an offseason plan, and by the end of June, we could be a better team than we are right now. I’m excited. I really like what we have going on here.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.