Coming into the Florida State Classic this weekend, the Lady Rattlers softball team had high hopes of proving that historically black colleges and universities could compete with other teams nationally.
Unfortuanteley for them, the team’s 0-3 record showed otherwise.
The softball team contended against Radford University (2-1), Florida State University (2-0) and Samford University (2-1). The Lady Rattlers lost in the tournament by a combined total of 32-5.
After the poor tournament showing in this weekend’s tournament, the Lady Rattlers are still trying to find their groove on the field.
Head coach Veronica Wiggins said she expected more of her team. “They didn’t show up,” coach Wiggins said. “They didn’t play.”
The softball team took a blow to the nose on Friday with its first loss to Radford in the first of two games that day. In the 12-4 loss, the Lady Rattlers contributed to the Highlanders’ victory with four errors and seven earned runs.
The Rattlers didn’t score until the fifth inning when they picked up four scores, two of which can be accredited to a highlander infielder’s error.
Wiggins said despite losing, the following game was a better one.
The Lady Rattlers took on FSU where the girls lost 5-0.
“It was just one of those games,” the hall of fame coach said. The ‘Noles scored late in the second inning with two runs. They followed later in third with one and then eventually closing out the game in fifth inning with two runs.
The team also played a good game against Samford, but still wound up losing 3-0. The game remained tied early in the second inning. Samford did not score again until the seventh inning.
Coach Wiggins attributes most of the errors on her team to the inexperience.
“We’re a young team, so we’ve got a lot of improving to do,” she said. With only three seniors and four juniors on the team, the softball team’s early struggles could be attributed to lack of experience.
However, the losing streak did not end there as the Lady Rattlers faced RU once again. In their final game of the tournament, the Highlanders opened up early in the first inning scoring two runs. Highlanders pitcher Breanna Felix set the tone for the game as she struck out all three Rattlers she faced in the inning.
The feeling of loss was felt around the team, especially team captain Alicia Mitchell, a junior broadcast journalism student from Cocoa.
“We have too much heart to fall short of our goals,” Mitchell said. The Lady Rattlers were shaken and upset after their losses. The team was the only HBCU team to play in the conference.
“It’s frustrating to see our team play the way we played today knowing we are better than what we showed,” Mitchell said.
The impact of the loss hit home as coach Wiggins looked baffled over the outcome.
“Offense, defense, pitching, catching, you name it, we need to improve on everything,” she said. The Rattlers battled costly errors and mistakes. Wiggins said the team has to take the poor showing as a lesson and regroup.
This is a message many of the players agree on.
“It is definitely an eye opener to what we need to work on,” said Ashley Smith, a broadcast journalism student from Atlanta.
Smith said the team is viewing the game as a stepping-stone and looking forward to a brighter future.