New-look Troy softball team forced to learn on the fly

By: Mike Moore | Troy Times | Published May 4, 2011


TROY — The confidence remains.

This season, like so many before, it is as much a part of the Troy High softball program as gloves, balls and bats.

When asked about the ultimate goal for the 2011 season, coach Tom Calnen responded with the same optimism as in year’s past, but with one caveat.

“Troy High is trying to find its way,” the veteran coach said. “I’ve got an extremely talented group of girls, but it is a very young group.”

The 2010 Colts carved a path to Battle Creek on the heels of a roster loaded with experience, eventually ending the season in the state semifinals. The final loss marked the end of some brilliant careers, most notably pitcher Jordan Wheatley, who was 27-3 last spring with 311 strikeouts, a 0.64 ERA and an opponents batting average of .139.

Wheatley was one of four Colts, along with Sara Dykowski, Katie Dunn and Colleen Burns, named to the All-State team a year ago.

The 2011 version had played all of six games at press time, holding a 3-3 overall record.

“The weather certainly hasn’t helped,” Calnen said, forcing a laugh. “This is a group that needs to practice and play as much as possible. They need to make those mistakes in games and learn and build from them. Unfortunately, we’ve spent the majority of the season inside.”

“It’s very different compared to the past few seasons,” junior Kamryn LaCarter said. “But that’s not what we’re focusing on. We’re still learning about this team and learning who works well and where.”

Calnen stressed the fact that wins and losses right now are the furthest thing from his list of concerns.

“Those kinds of things take care of themselves,” he said. “Getting games under our belt is the best thing for these girls right now. There is so much talent, and they are working so hard. The effort is awesome. But the only way to improve that softball IQ is to get out on the field and do it.”

“All you can ask is the effort we’re putting forth right now,” junior catcher Laney Hart said, offering her firsthand view of how the pitching staff is coming along. “We understand what’s expected and what the Troy way is, and we all believe this season could be a very special one.”

With Wheatley no longer in the mix, Calnen has used a rotation in the circle.

“It’s a young staff, and they have learned very quickly that the ball has to move up and down, and side to side, and you have to hit your spots,” he said. “When that doesn’t happen, you’re going to get hit.”

They may be younger and less experienced, but the Colts certainly aren’t in over their heads. The three losses on the season have all been one-run games.

That, coupled with the talent Calnen knows he’s working with, seems to be the driving force behind the confidence and swagger.

“I know we can play defense. I know we’re going to score runs, and when our pitching comes around, we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” he said. “Nothing’s changed as far as what we want to accomplish. You want to put yourself in a position to go on that seven- or eight-game winning streak at the right time of the year. Now’s not that time, but we’re getting there. We’re taking some big steps in the right direction.”