East’s Troutman signs softball scholarship with Lander
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY — Evidence of East Rowan senior Kaleigh Troutman’s strength is visible on the placards on a wall of Kelly Sparger Fieldhouse.
Troutman has the highest numbers for East Rowan females in the bench press, squat and power clean.
Physical strength, combined with a strength of spirit, enabled her to come back from a devastating knee injury and earn a scholarship to play softball at NCAA Division II Lander. Troutman signed with the Greenwood, S.C., school last week.
Troutman blew out her left knee — ACL, MCL and meniscus — making a play at the plate while catching for her travel-ball softball team. She needed surgery in October of her sophomore year.
“It wasn’t until the conference tournament that spring that she could bat and run,” East Rowan coach Mike Waddell said. “So she basically lost a whole year of softball.”
Troutman, who hit two homers as a freshman, came back strong and powered eight home runs as a junior.
“The biggest challenge was just getting my timing back,” Troutman said. “The knee hurts now and then, but you learn to deal with that.”
Troutman pounded two homers in a game against Carson last season. She has launched four so far this season, including a two-homer game against Concord.
“She’s got a lot of power and she can hit homers in bunches,” Waddell said. “She’s worked with (East Rowan assistant) Brian Poole a lot on her hitting. Teams pitch around her, but she still gets key hits for us.”
While Troutman is best-known for her slugging, she’s also a quality catcher.
“She’s good at blocking balls in the dirt and she keeps runners honest on the bases with a good arm,” Waddell said. “She’s vocal, and you like to see that in your catcher. She’s a field general.”
Troutman goes at sports hard and is a fine all-round athlete. She scored a lot of goals back in her middle school soccer days, and she was a huge part of East Rowan’s 22-4 season when she made a basketball comeback as a senior. She averaged six points and six rebounds.
Coach Danielle Porter let Troutman rest her knee in the easy games, but she played major minutes in the Mustangs’ key contests. She scored 11 point against North Rowan in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic championship game. She scored 11 when the Mustangs won at home against SPC champ South Rowan. She scored 34 points in East Rowan’s three playoff games.
Troutman didn’t grow up dreaming about playing softball for Lander, but a Lander coach happened to be in the crowd at a showcase game to see one of Troutman’s teammates.
“I had a good game that day and they noticed me,” Troutman said. “It went from there.”
Troutman liked Lander when she made the three-hour trip to Greenwood for a visit.
Lander competes in the Peach Belt Conference with schools such as UNC Pembroke, USC Aiken, Francis Marion, Armstrong, North Georgia and Columbus State.
Troutman plans to major in exercise science, and she should provide a boost for a rebuilding softball program that just finished a 12-28 season.
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