After winning four games in 2010, the Lady Tigers more than doubled that total a year ago en route to an 11-win season.
The players want more, though.
As gratified as they were to show such marked improvement between seasons, the goal of making it to the state tournament eluded them.
Troup made it to the Region 6-AAA tournament, but it lost to Central-Carroll 7-5 to fall short its in quest to advance to state.
Now, on the verge of a new season, the players are committed to taking the next step.
“They came up with a series of goals, and ultimately, they wanted to go to state,” said second-year head coach Blair Shimandle. “Everytime they’re slacking, that’s my thing. If you want to go to state, pick it up.”
Taylor Morris, who’ll be a senior pitcher this season, said making it to state is the number one objective for everyone.
“Going to state, that’s it,” Morris said. “That’s our goal.”
Added fellow senior Jessica Gilbert, a shortstop, “that’s definitely one of our top goals. We set team goals, and that’s one that we definitely agreed upon from the start.”
It’s a realistic goal.
Most of the players from last year’s team return, and Shimandle said a nice influx of younger players has given the team an edge it didn’t have last year.
“We have more depth this year,” Shimandle said. “We have more depth overall. We have more utility players.”
The team is led by a trio of seniors who have been with the program for years.
Morris has been the team’s top pitcher since her sophomore season, Gilbert anchors the infield defense from her shortstop position, and Hannah Easterwood was the starting catcher a year ago.
“They’ve had a lot of experience,” Shimandle said. “They’re really good leaders, which is huge.”
A fourth senior, Chasity Copeland, is re-joining the team after sitting out her junior year.
“She brings the speed, so that’ll help,” Shimandle said.
A number of other returning players saw significant playing time a year ago, including junior third baseman Alex Duncan, who played in the Georgia Dugout Club Elite 80 showcase during the summer.
Also back are slugging outfielder Kalah Mingo, junior first baseman Jordan Pike and junior outfielder Olivia Ivey.
The only player who isn’t back is pitcher Elizabeth Novelli, who transferred to another school. “Everybody has a lot of experience from being together,” Gilbert said. “We’ve got a lot of team chemistry because we’re all back. That’s a real advantage that we have.”
Shimandle is hopeful that, with everyone a year older, the Lady Tigers will find a way to finish out more games.
A year ago, Troup lost a bunch of close games, including the 7-5 loss in the region tournament that ended the season.
“You have to learn how to win,” Shimandle said. “When you get in the sixth or seventh inning, are you still going to push, are you going to make that big play? Are you going to make the play that’s a difference between a win or a loss? We have to play from the first pitch to the last pitch, and every play in between.”