In doing so, Phelps has taken a path she wouldn’t have any other way.
That road with her bat, bag, and glove certainly paid off in her first at bat in Troy’s new multi-million dollar softball complex.
The Trojans opened the season at home against Auburn and Phelps provided the fireworks in her first at bat as she not only homered, but hit a grand slam.
“When I stepped into the batters box I was real nervous and shaky,” said Phelps who leads the Trojans with six home runs and 29 runs batted in. “After I hit the ball I was running the bases when Coach (Beth) Wade yelled it was out of here.
“I hadn’t smiled so big probably since I was born.”
Phelps hasn’t stopped there even though she did have her doubts.
“I didn’t have that great of a fall or spring drills,” said Phelps. “We have 26 players on the team so we do a lot of scrimmaging against ourselves and I didn’t feel like I did that well.
“When I hit that home run in my first at bat, I felt that it didn’t make me look so weak.”
Phelps has been anything but weak at the plate as she hit a home run off the scoreboard in Gainesville when the Trojans faced off against the Florida Gators to break up a shutout and this past Saturday she hit a solo shot in the fourth inning against Texas State to give Troy a 1-0 victory over the Bobcats in Sun Belt Conference action.
While Phelps is off to a strong start this season, she definitely had to earn her way onto the team.
“When I started talking to Coach Wade and Troy, she told me I would not start for the team and that I would have to work to earn some playing time at first base and that I may get to practice with the pitchers,” recalled Phelps.
That was a challenge Phelps not only personally faced, but embraced. She has started in 47 of the 49 games she has played in. As of this past weekend’s series against Texas State, the Trojans have played 51 games so far.
Phelps feels that she was prepared for this step due to the work she put in at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville.
“I am so glad I went the junior college route,” Phelps said. “I am a totally different player after playing at NWF compared to how I arrived.
“Coach (Jack) Byerley changed me as a player and as a person. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
This weekend Phelps and the Trojans will be playing about as close to home as they ever will as the Trojans will visit the Lady Jaguars of South Alabama to play a double header this Saturday starting at 1 p.m.
“I am excited to play in Mobile,” said Phelps. “I know some of the players on the team and their parents who coached me when I played back in high school.
“I like it that my family and friends get to come see me play, but I liked it a little better when I got to actually play in Pensacola to show them I could actually play at the college level.”
During her two years at Northwest Florida State College, Phelps earned Academic All-American honors and was named to the second team Panhandle All-Conference (infield) her sophomore season. She earned second team all-conference honors her freshman year as a pitcher.
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