After roster departures, team chemistry is the focal point as the Florida A&M University’s baseball team gears up for the season, which starts on Feb. 20 against Jackson State University.
The departure of senior leadership from Corey McFadden and Cirilo Manego will have to be replaced if the Rattlers want to improve from last year’s disappointment, but head coach Robert Lucas said that won’t be a problem.
“The majority of our starters are returning, and we look for them to have a big year,” said Coach Robert Lucas.
Returning players, like Tim Schalch and Darryl Evans, will be responsible for leading the team to a winning season, and providing guidance for the younger players.
The Rattlers receive early tests with the opener against Jackson State, and a trip to Houston to face Texas Southern University.
These will surely challenge the team’s chemistry and heart, something that didn’t bother coach Lucas.
“This team seems to be closer as a unit then last year,” said coach Lucas, “they’re always picking up their teammates by encouraging them.”
Fundamentals are essential in baseball in order for a team to succeed, and obtain goals that each team sets before every season.
Fielding has been the main focal point for the Rattlers the past couple of seasons, but look for that change this year according to the Rattlers.
“Our field is in way better condition than it ever was last season,” said Coach Lucas. “That doesn’t show up in the stats,” coach Lucas continued, “but it’s very key to the performance of the players.”
The 98 errors committed by the team in 42 games last season, as listed on meacsports.com, is clearly a focus of the squad.
Although, they didn’t lead the conference in errors, which was Coppin State with 153, that stat is a direct coronation with the number of wins a team has.
“We’ll be better,” said coach Lucas, “due to an added year of maturity, and guys growing as players.”
For help on turning the program around in a short amount of time Coach Lucas didn’t have to look far. Coach Lucas added a couple of football players like Derrick Shaw, a freshman from Orlando.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing Derrick Shaw, and what he can do for the team,” said coach Lucas.
With a little old and new, the Rattlers look to take the conference by storm, and accomplish something that has escaped the teams in the past couple of years, a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship.
“I easily see this team winning 30 games this season,” said coach Lucas, “we have the pieces in place.”
The baseball team is currently working towards the goal of winning the MEAC championship. Many players say that it will be an honor to represent FAMU on a big stage.