Troup Thunder happy to be playing
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The standard is a lofty one for the Troup Thunder travel softball team.
The team has regularly competed for tournament championships since its creation in 2016, and the Thunder has brought home numerous first-place trophies.
With a three-month lockdown now over with, the Thunder is looking to regain its winning ways.
The Thunder has competed in tournaments the past two weekends, and it went 2-2 in an event in Heard County on Saturday.
Troup went 2-1 in pool play in the
Heard County tournament before falling 3-2 to the team that won the championship.
“We were geared up, ready to go for a good season, and everything was shut down,” said Jason Graham, the team’s head coach. “We kind of anticipated everybody would be itching and ready to go, but it was tough knocking the rust off and getting their mental preparation, their mental game ready. We’ve kind of scuffled a little bit out of the gate.”
Following the Heard County tournament, Graham said “my words of encouragement to the team, or words of motivation, was we’ve got to stay hungry. We’ve accomplished a lot and won a lot of tournaments, but this season we’ve played three and won zero. We’ve got to put in the work and earn it.”
If history is an indicator, the Troup Thunder will soon be right back in the championship mix.
“What we’ve accomplished, and what we’ve done over the past five years has been pretty special,” Graham said. “We’ve had a lot of success on the field, and we’ve won a lot of tournaments. It’s been a blessing for sure to have that tight-knit group, and I can’t tell you how many hours we’ve spent together.”
When the team was formed, Graham and fellow coach Jacob Rice were intent on not just winning tournaments, but on helping prepare the players for high-school softball.
Beginning this fall, some of those players who are entering the eighth grade will get the chance to play in high school as junior-varsity players.
“That’s exciting,” said Graham. “We’ve built to that, and that’s what we’ve said when we first started was that we wanted our girls to be good enough to compete for a starting job when they were freshmen. We’re trying to prepare them for the next level.”
The Thunder will participate in a handful of tournaments the rest of the summer, including a big one in Panama City. The tournament features teams from across the Southeast, and the Thunder will be looking to make a splash.
“We went down there when they were 10, and we finished in third place,” Graham said. “We were undefeated heading into the championship day. We’re going back this year, and our expectations are to get back and to be playing on championship day.”