After a breakout sophomore campaign, Troy Buchanan junior Macie Hunolt has high goals for the upcoming season.
Serving as the team’s main pitcher last season, Hunolt finished last season with a 17-6 record and a 1.56 earned run average in 24 starts for the Trojans last season. She threw 153 innings, after hurling 59 ⅔ innings with a 4.11 ERA in her freshman season.
Hunolt believes her comfort level last season and working with coach Lance Richardson helped her make improvements from her freshman season to her sophomore season.
“I was really nervous my freshman year because I was playing with players that were a lot older than me,” Hunolt said. “And he (Richardson) said I would be pitching some games so obviously I was really nervous. But now I got the hang of it and I’m a lot more confident.”
She stressed she handled the ups and downs of the season better last season than she did her freshman year.
She also believes she improved at the plate last season. She finished the season with a .320 batting average and 22 RBIs. She hit .271 during her freshman season.
“My freshman year, I batted last, I think, and then there would be some games where I didn’t play,” Hunolt said. “But this year, I got used to seeing faster pitching. And I would go to the pitching machines with my dad and he would set it on like 65 (miles per hour). And I would just hit with him so I could get used to it.”
Richardson believes Hunolt matured from her freshman season to her sophomore season. He believes she grew mentally from her freshman and sophomore season. She also improved from the weight room work she put in prior to her sophomore season.
“I definitely saw Macie take a big step from her freshman year to sophomore year,” Richardson said. “She added velocity because of her added strength.”
This year, Hunolt’s goal is to be a first team all-state pitcher. She believes general improvements on the mound will help her as she attempts to reach that goal. She said she is focusing on her changeup.
“Coach Richardson always says that elite pitchers have to have elite changeups,” Hunolt said. “So I’ve been working on my changeup a lot so that I can perfect it and it’ll be even better in games.”
Hunolt also believes the experience she and the Trojans gained last season can help them prepare for this season. Hunolt specifically cited the Trojans’ sectional game last season against Francis Howell Central. The game spanned 12 innings and two days. Troy Buchanan lost the game 3-2. Hunolt threw all 12 innings.
Hunolt said she had to alter her strategy and trust pitches she did not throw much because of how many times she had to face the Francis Howell Central lineup.
Richardson believes last year’s experience in the playoffs can help the team be prepared for similar situations this season. He noted games in the summer and during the high school sports season always have another game. This is different in the postseason, he noted.
Despite the Trojans losing several key contributors from last year’s team, Richardson has liked what he has seen from the team so far. He added the team’s commitment throughout summer workouts was great.
“We lost some key pieces from last season,” Richardson said. “We lost our starters up the middle. But we’re blessed with young talent.”