On Feb. 20, Florida A&M University’s baseball team opens their 2009 campaign against hitting machine Jackson State University, and confidence is high.
After falling two games under .500 with a record of 20-22, the Rattlers have high hopes for this year’s team, and look forward to a good start with a win against Jackson State.
The Tigers of Jackson State will roll into Moore-Kittles Field on Friday after a 37-22 overall record, and a trip to the semi-final round of the SWAC tournament.
In their conference, Jackson State finished last season third in team batting with an average of .325 and second in on-base percentage with a .427 according to swac.org.
Coach Robert Lucas, FAMU’s head baseball coach, said that pitching and defense will become influential for the first win.
“Our game plan is to attack them, while playing good, fundamental baseball in the process,” Lucas said.
Lucas also said that the Rattlers defense should be ready to make the plays expected of them due to all of the practice that focuses on fielding, and other aspects of the game to improve defense overall.
Darryl Evans, a junior physical education student from Merrillville, Ind., agreed with Lucas’ statement on the team’s defensive improvements from last year.
“Our defense has definitely improved, and I personally have a lot of confidence in our offense and defense,” said Evans, the starting centerfielder.
When asked about the mindset of this year’s team, Evans said this team is clearly more serious about the task at hand then in the past couple of years.
He continued by adding in past years the team would dig a deep hole in the first half of the season, which forced them to fight even more to make up for the previous losses.
He also commented on what was the key motivation for this year’s team to improve upon last years performance.
“Guys are just simply tired of losing ball games, this year we want to change the culture around here,” Evans said.
Pitching is always the driving factor of a team’s success, and could easily determine how far a team will go.
Potential starting pitcher Miguel Parga, 21, a junior physical education student from Perry, said he’s not shying away from any contact, and is ready for the challenge of facing Jackson State’s hitters.
“I’m going to focus on throwing strikes, and trust that my defense is going to make plays when the time comes,” Parga said.
When asked what fans should expect if they come to Friday’s game, Parga said they should expect a lot of energy, and guys playing hard for one common goal.
He added he is psyched for the chance to start the first game against a quality opponent.
He also said that he and his teammates were ready to prove people wrong about their assumptions about past seasons, and the Rattler’s ability as collegiate athletes.
The first pitch will leave the mound at 1 p.m. this Friday. It is opening day for the Rattlers so fans should make it out to the ball park to show the team some school spirit and support.