As Florida A&M University’s softball team continues its 2015 MEAC championship defense campaign, hometown foe Florida State (13-3) proved to be too much to handle.
The Lady Rattlers (5-6) had a tough start falling to a 7-0 score after three walks and two huge home runs in the first inning, including a grand slam down the left field line by Carsyn Gordon. Senior pitcher Jessica Burroughs got the win for the Seminoles with six strikeouts and no errors in three innings pitched.
Sophomore pitcher Veronica Burse started for the Rattlers, but was replaced by Junior Kenya Pereira after three walks and five hits in one inning pitched. Two wild pitches and an error in the second inning caused FSU’s lead to balloon to 10 runs.
Still, FAMU was able to find its defensive stride, holding the Seminoles to zero runs in the third and fourth innings.
“I was trying to just slow the game down and really just play the game,” Pereira said. “The strike zone was kind of small so I was trying to do my best with that and just keep the team up pretty much.”
Despite being able to slow down the Seminoles’ scoring, FAMU was unable to get much scoring of their own. Freshman right fielder Alexis Day crossed home plate after a RBI single by Kieffi Myrick in the top of the fourth, giving the Lady Rattlers their only run.
However, the game was brought to an early ending halfway through the fourth inning due to the NCAA’s mercy rule, which is invoked if the home team is leading by at least eight runs after four and a half innings.
Regardless of the outcome, FAMU isn’t ready to hang their heads. Head coach Veronica Wiggins and company is focused on improvement, as they get ready for the University of Florida tournament on March 4, keeping their sights locked on a repeat MEAC championship.
“We have a really good team and sometimes it takes to grow through adversity,” said coach Wiggins. “So, that’s all it is and it’s about chipping off the wall and knocking the wall down and getting better. This part is growth, it’s one game and we’re going to learn from it.”
With several coaching staff changes during the off-season and four new freshmen, FAMU has the potential to be better than last year’s championship squad. Improving from their rough 0-12 start last season, the Lady Rattlers have already notched five wins and have not begun conference play.
Senior second baseman Jessica Nathan has taken note of the improvement, citing a more cohesive play style for the early success.
“Our bats are much more active together in the early part of this season as compared to last season,” said Nathan. “These ladies have the talent, but we’re playing together and as a family and that’s what is making the difference this year.”
FAMU is slated to begin MEAC play against North Carolina Central on March 25 in Durham, North Carolina.