With the loss of only one pitcher from last season, the Rattlers thought pitching was going to be a key asset for the team.
Mike Tavernier, a freshman from Clearwater, was recruited to try to fortify the Rattlers pitching staff.
The 5-foot-10-inch pitcher attended St. Petersburg Catholic High School, where he was both a phenomenal player and a good student.
During his first year, Tavernier was voted relief pitcher of the year. He led his team in wins as a sophomore, and was a part of the 300 hit club his junior year.
During Tavernier’s senior year, he was an untouchable force on the pitching mound. He received the Gatorade Player of the Year Award; he broke the school record for strikeouts, had a .464 batting average and again led his team in wins with eight.
His 8-3 record with three saves and 106 strikeouts in 85 innings helped Tavernier earn a spot on the 2004 St. Petersburg Times’ first team All-Pinellas County team
Such accolades brought scholarship offers from numerous colleges and universities.
The University of Miami, Marshall and Barry University are just a few of the schools that offered Tavernier a scholarship. However, he could not turn down the offer that he received from Florida A&M University.
Tavernier was not expected to be a starting pitcher this season, but was given the opportunity due to the lack of productivity with the original pitching staff.
Kentaus Carter, an assistant coach said, “Not only is he a pitcher, but he’s an exceptional athlete.”
Both coaches and players spoke highly of Tavernier.
“He can come off cocky, but it’s confidence. He’s the type of person who would fight for me,” said David Hampton, a senior from Ocala.
Tavernier has adjusted quickly to the rigors of college baseball.
“In college they can hit the ball a lot harder, so the same mistakes cannot be made.”
After a bad start to the season, the Rattlers are on a six-game winning streak, which started with Tavernier’s three-hit shutout over Delaware State on April 3.
“When you’re on a winning streak, don’t mess with the winning streak,” said assistant head coach Brett Richardson. “If I was going to the battlefield, I want to be on Tavernier’s side. When he is on the mound the guys play differently.”
Tavernier is tough competitor, and when he gets on the mound, he is a major threat to the other team.
His opponents are hitting .244 against him this season. That is the fourth best earned run average in the MEAC.
“Tavernier is a super freshman who (we) are lucky to have, because he could have easily chosen Miami,” said FAMU Head Coach Joe Durant.
Tavernier has pitched 73 innings in which he has struck out 63 players for FAMU this season.
If Tavernier continues to play as he has in the last four starts, where he has gone 4-0 allowing four runs in 33 innings, there is a good chance he will be Freshman of the Year.
Contact Brittney Terrell at email@example.com.