Long ball helps Trevecca softball shorten games, top standings

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 12:00am

Trevecca Nazarene’s softball team can’t rely on its depth. It can, however, count on the hitting the ball deep.

With 58 home runs spread out among nine of the 10 active players, the Trojans entered the week just nine blasts short of the school record – with 10 regular season games remaining.

Trevecca has ridden those big bats to a 32-9 overall record, 9-1 and first place in the TransSouth Athletic Conference.

“People would ask me, as early as this summer, and I would say I thought we could make a run at the championship this year,” coach Ben Tyree said. “You could tell it was a good hitting team. You can’t pitch around anybody in the line up.

“The only thing I didn’t know about was the number of players.”

The Trojans compensate for being short on players by regularly shortening games. NAIA regulations include a run rule that end games if one team is ahead by eight or more starting in the fifth inning.

Last Thursday, with just two pitchers available and a doubleheader against conference rival Union days away, Trevecca hit three home runs and swept a doubleheader with Cumberland. Neither game went the distance..

Pitchers Lauren Baker and Riley Mashburn appreciated the rest. They took the mound again Saturday as the Trojans beat Union twice and climbed to the top of the conference standings. The first game was determined by three-run home runs from Baker and Monica West. Kelsey Lantrip ended game two with a walk-off solo shot.

Senior Megan Hemmingsen figures all the long balls have gone a long way toward shaping opponents’ impressions of TNU, which will host the conference tournament Apri 28-30.

“This will make people respect us even more,” she said.

The hitting has been a group effort.

Five different Trojans have at least seven home runs. West, a junior, leads the team with 11,

“I think the hitting has been contagious,” she said. “We all put in the work this off-season and now it’s paying off.”

Depth is undeniably a factor. Yet other than treating games like batting practice, an attitude has been adopted by the team to overcome their short bench.

“We play smart out there and look out for each other,” West said. “We really pick each other up, this is a motivated team.”

And while setting home run records is exciting, winning is the Trojans’ only concern.

“It [the HR record] is never discussed,” Tyree said. “This team has a business-like approach to the game, and that’s why it’s been so fun this year.”