After garnering its first victory of the season by splitting a double-header with Mercer University (2-6) Wednesday night, things may be starting to look up for the FAMU softball team(1-10).
Defending the MEAC crown has not come easy for the Lady Rattler softball team so far this season.
Games against nationally ranked opponents have led to the rocky start for a young Rattler team that is aiming to win its third MEAC title in three years and make a run toward the NCAA Regionals.
FAMU was no-hit by No. 25 Florida State University two weeks ago and dropped games against No. 24 University of South Florida and No. 15 University of Washington.
But Wednesday night would prove to be solace for the struggling squad.
In game one, the Lady Rattlers were able to battle back
from a 3-2 deficit by scoring
runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings to take a 4-3 victory over the visiting Bears.
Freshman Melissa Oliphant went two for three at the plate driving in three Lady Rattlers runners.
Port St. Johns native Alicia Mitchell went the distance for FAMU pitching seven strong innings, earning her first win.
Game two was also a nail biter with Mercer winning 7-6 as the Lady Rattlers fell short after scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Confidence was regained in the double-header as the FAMU offense finally came around with 20 combined hits and 10 runs.
Pitching is also starting to come around, as senior Destiny Gordon and junior Mitchell combined to give up only six earned runs and give the staff confidence as they prepared for this weekend’s Georgia Southern Tournament in Statesboro, Ga.
“We know that we are capable to do big things this season and we are starting to mesh and come together as a team,” Mitchell said.
She continued, “The only thing missing is the mental aspect of our game, but we are getting stronger every game.”
Head coach Veronica Wiggins, who is entering her 14th year at the helm for the Lady Rattlers, knows she faces a tough road ahead in leading the youth of the Rattlers back to MEAC championship play.
The Hall of Fame coach is up for the challenge and has confidence in her squad.
“It was real big getting our first win of the season in game 1 and I got a lot out of them in game two even though we came up short,” Wiggins said. “I saw a different team come out here and compete tonight.”
FAMU’s starting lineup consists of three freshmen and two sophomores who are ready to take on the expectations of playing for a program that expects to be successful every season.
The team’s resilient play over its past few games has shown its determination not to allow a slow start to derail its championship aspirations.
“We are still claiming the title because it’s our prize, and our goal is to win it again this year,” Oliphant said.
“In every game we want to set the tone by getting hits and scoring runs early, which will give us an advantage over our opponents,” she said.
The Lady Rattlers’ tough non-conference schedule continues as they face opponents from the University of Wisconsin, University of Georgia, University of Southern Mississippi and FSU before they start conference play against North Carolina A&T University on March 23.