The Florida A&M softball team will open the 2010 season with seven returning players from last season’s team and eight incoming players who will be counted on to take the place of four players who are no longer apart of the team.
The Rattlers finished the 2009 season 12-0 in the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference with a 30-32 overall record, leading the conference in team batting, team fielding, team pitching and earned run averages.
Out-fielder Raven Johnson and in-fielders Ashley Johnson, Megan Moore and Briana Weaver chose not to return to the team for the 2009-2010 season.
Many returning players did not want to comment on why some of the players from the 2008-2009 season did not return for the 2009-2010 season.
Tenisha Dixon, a sophomore center fielder and transfer from University of Central Florida, shared her opinion on why head coach Veronica Wiggins has a roster of eight new players to replace the four the team lost.
“Coach is the type of person where if something is not working, something in the puzzle is wrong with the rest of the team, she is quick to get rid of that person and find someone to replace them with,” Dixon said. “I think the main thing was that she wanted the team to be able to gel, to work together as one. She just did not want the segregation.”
For the team to “gel,” Wiggins expects a high level of performance from both her returning players and the new recruits.
“I have high expectations for the young ladies that are here this year,” Wiggins said. “I am expecting them to do very well in the conference, but we all have to live up to our expectations. We can improve in all elements, you never stop working, from offense, to defense, to pitching, to hitting, to tell the truth we need all of it to improve.”
Wiggins addressed the issue of how vital it was to have returning players from the 2009 season.
“We have brought back some experience in each area,” Wiggins said. “Now if they can become a unit and play as one, then we will definitely do well.”
Sophomore in-field and second base player Jasmin Donaldson is confident that the team will make an overall improvement by advancing further and is capable of making it to the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference championship.
“Now that we have been there, our expectations are a lot higher,” Donaldson said. “We’re just going back to the basics, as coach would say, instead of just jumping in. We’re going back to where softball started, back to the original drills [and] regular mechanics. Everything is all about techniques and fundamentals.”
Sophomore catcher Courtney Harold refers to herself along with other returning players as having to take on a leadership role towards the new players, based on last seasons experience.
“They look up to us, because they know that we’re a championship team,” Harold said.
“We know we have to be leaders and step up. We try to motivate the new players vocally on and off the field, [and] by body language, they have to see that they can follow after you.”