The Rattler baseball team has been in the spirit of giving ball games away lately.
Shaky infield play has contributed to the (0-3) start with losses to Jacksonville University, Savannah State University and Alabama A&M University. The team has committed 16 errors in three losses.
FAMU has outplayed all three opponents, but mental errors have led to physical breakdowns in the defense.
The outfield has been consistent, making only one fielding error, while the infield has struggled with 15 errors mostly coming from the left side of the diamond.
Pitchers have also struggled with throws and communication with the infield by making errant throws in each of the three games.
“As a team we have not gelled together, we just have to come back to practice and work on our mistakes,” said senior left-fielder Stanley Gnat.
After the HBCU tournament in Savannah, Ga., the Rattlers came back to practice this week to focus on fundamentals and to clear their minds of the mistakes made in past games.
Senior third baseman Peter Guastella has been working hard by taking extra groundballs after practice to get over the four errors he made so far this season.
“I am trying to keep my mind clear and go out and just play, this is a long season we are going to have peaks and valleys hopefully we can get a win to boost our confidence,” Guastella said.
Head coach Joe Durant said he knows his team played well enough to win each game and they must continue to fight for that first victory.
“We have to keep working, stay aggressive and take one game at a time,” Durant said.
Pitching coach Brett Richardson has been working with the pitchers on fielding their position, setting their feet on throws and fielding bunts.
“As a team we talked about the mental problems and worked on the physical problems,” Richardson said. “We can fix the physical problems but we can only talk about the mental problems.”
Pitching and defense are the main issues FAMU must work on before conference play begins.
Offense has been taking care of itself as the Rattlers have outhit their competition in two of three games averaging 10.6 hits per contest. Six Rattlers are batting more than .300 for the season.Putting the ball in play hasn’t been a problem, but scoring base runners has as the Rattlers are leaving 11.1 runners stranded on the base path per game.
“Against Alabama A&M we left 18 runners on base,” Durant said. “We must improve on scoring runs.”
Despite the mistakes, coach Durant is confident his team will regain confidence and overcome adversity.
“We have a good ball club once we piece everything together we will be fine,” Durant said.
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Rattlers as they welcome the Naval Academy for a three game series Feb. 9-11 and then go on a 10-game road trip that includes games at University of Florida, Florida International University, Mercer University and the University of North Florida.
“We can’t worry about who is on our schedule,” coach Durant said. “We must go out and play each game to win.”