The bleachers filled with orange and green at Moore-Kittles Field Friday, as fans showed their support and anticipation for the season to kick-off against the Marshall University Thundering Herd. It was an unexpected loss, as the Rattlers finished with a final score of 17-5.
FAMU finished last season with a 27-26 record, 14-10 in the MEAC. This matchup resulted differently than last year's home opener, a 2-1 victory against Wofford University.
The game was still scoreless by the top of the third inning, but in the bottom things started to look up for the Rattlers. They gained two homers from Kodi Russ and Bret Maxwell.
Another spark from FAMU didn't come until a left-center ball hit by Jacky Miles brought Brian Davis home giving them another run with a total of 7-3 in the fifth inning.
Out of Graceville, FL, Jacky Miles Jr. made his debut after enduring a right knee injury right before the 2017 season began. He's coming back after hitting .328 with four home runs and 42 RBIs.
The Thundering Herd unveiled 17 new players and finished with a 25-29 record in 2017.
Lionel Thompson attends mostly every game and has watched the team continuously transition through the seasons.
“I think it was just the jitters of it being the first game.” said Thompson. According to Thompson the major kink that needs to be worked out is the pitcher.
Head coach Jamey Shouppe couldn’t agree more.
“It all starts with the pitcher. We’ve got to come ready to play every time you get a chance to play this great game,” said Shouppe.
“If that doesn’t open our eyes to let these guys know that we’re not ready to play, then nothing will. If you can’t throw strikes and make pitches in crucial situations, then you’re not going to win at this level. There’s two types of players: those that have been humbled and those that are getting ready to be,” said Shouppe. “We got beat in every aspect of the game offensively and defensively.” he added.
This was the starting point. Most of all, a lesson for junior outfielder Jordan Curtis on the team and on the field.
“It’s a wakeup call basically,” said Curtis. “I want to work on being level-headed and a better leader, not letting moments like this affect me too much.”
Last season Curtis tallied 34 stolen bases while hitting .370 from the plate at Tallahassee Community College.