Young, fast, cohesive and determined, the Rattlers baseball team is ready to show all that they are: a team to be reckoned with this season.
Last season, the Rattlers finished 19-33 and placed fifth in the MEAC with a 9-9 conference record.
Coach Joe Durant plans on using the same coaching philosophy, but will focus more on ensuring the development of his young players.
“There are only three seniors on the team this year. We are very young and our season really depends on how fast our young guys can mature,” Durant said.
Although the team is young team, Durant added, “there is already strong on-the-field leadership by some of our young guys.”
Key transfers Ben Baylor, a junior left-handed pitcher, junior outfielder/catcher Anthony Mazzeo and junior catcher Blair Mercer also will join the team.
Durant said he is anticipating sophomore infielder Corey McFadden, sophomore catcher Elvin Millan, junior utility Stanley Gnat and senior infielder Chris Lee to have good, strong seasons.
McFadden and Gnat were both top five on the team statistically in nearly every offensive category last season.
Millan will be catching again this year and Lee is set to return to the team after having back surgery.
Being productive and increasing the team’s batting average from last season (.268) will be a focal point for this year’s group.
The best attribute of this group of players is the strong sense of wanting to work toward a common goal, which is to stay together and become better as a team.
“Being more focused on team goals rather than individual achievements is important, and we want to remain consistent,” said sophomore outfielder Edmond Bushnell, 21, from Silver Springs, Md. “Consistency is the key.”
Another common response by the team’s coaches and players is that they have great speed. With 88 stolen bases last season, the Rattlers are looking to improve on that already impressive statistic.
“This year, we are stronger and dedicated and we are going to all put in so we can achieve as a team,” said McFadden, 19, from Tampa.
Coaches are really excited about the pitching staff for the Rattlers. The talent level in the starting rotation and in the bullpen appears strong, they said.
“I’m not sure who will be my pitchers one through four. Any one of them could pitch in the top spot,” said pitching coach Brett Richardson.
FAMU was second in the MEAC last year in batter’s struck out and had an ERA of 5.76.
As of now, the likely ace for the team will be sophomore pitcher/infielder Cirilo Manego, with junior pitcher Austin Dill as closer.
The Rattlers kick off the season today against the Jacksonville University Dolphins at 2 p.m. in Moore-Kittles Field.
Contact Danon Bell at email@example.com