When the Troup Tigers take the field for the first time today, they’ll have a new look on the field, and on the coaching staff.
The Tigers are scheduled to host Northgate at 1 p.m. today in a preseason game, weather permitting.
The game was supposed to be played Friday, but it was re-scheduled for today.
Troup will open its season for real on Monday with a home game against Northgate at noon.
That game was supposed to be played at Northgate, but its field won’t be ready, so it’ll be played at Troup instead.
The Tigers made a second straight trip to the state semifinals a year ago, but many of the players responsible for that success have moved on.
There are some talented returnees, including standout catcher Jonathan Foster, but there will also be a bunch of new starters stepping into the lineup.
The coaching staff has also seen some changes.
Long-time assistant coach Jamie Schmitt is now LaGrange High’s athletic director, and someone familiar to local baseball fans has taken his place.
Korey Noles, who led LaGrange High to a state championship in 2004, is the new pitching coach at Troup.
Noles, who spent three seasons playing professional baseball after a banner stint at Columbus State, had been the head coach at LaGrange Academy the past few years.
“He fits right into our program, the way we try to teach it and preach it, as far as getting the most out of the talent,” Troup head coach Craig Garner said. “You don’t have to be the greatest athlete in the world. You just have to have a great work ethic, and a lot of heart and a lot of hustle.”
Former Troup player Blake Barber has also joined the staff, and there are now three members of the Barber family on the coaching staff.
Blake Barber and Brock Barber are the sons of Richie Barber, and all three will be coaching at Troup.
All of the coaches have done their best to get the team ready to play despite the complications brought about by the poor weather in recent weeks.
A handful of practices have been canceled all together, and the field time has been limited because of the rain and snow.
Ready or not, though, it’s time to play baseball, and the new-look Tigers will get their first test today, although it just a preseason game and both teams will be using a lot of players.
“I think the players are ready,” Garner said. “Of course I’m thinking we’re still a little bit ill-prepared, and not ready by any means. But you never feel like you really are.”
All teams in the area have dealt with the same problems, and Garner figures “there’ll be a lot of ugly ballgames these first couple of weeks.”