Spring is here and Florida A&M Rattler baseball is in full swing. Coming off of a 27-26 record during an injury-filled season last year, the Rattlers are ready to kick off this season with the bar set higher than ever.
Head coach Jamey Shouppe has plans to take the program to places it has never been. Shouppe walks around with the word “more” embroidered on his baseball cap, representing the team motto for the season.
“If you look at the records, the most wins in a season for FAMU baseball since we’ve been a division one program, which is 1980 has been 34,” said Shouppe.
“We’ve averaged 27 wins in four seasons since I’ve been here but I want more. I want that record. I want to legitimize this program at the division one level by not only having a winning season but getting to the post season and making some noise when we get there. That’s what I mean by more. I want more out of our guys. I want more out of our coaching staff and I want to take this program to places it has never been.”
This motto originated due to the heavily senior laden class this year. The roster features 13 seniors, all recruited and brought in by Shouppe.
One of Shouppe’s first recruits in the program, senior pitcher and team captain Ryan Anderson, spoke about team goals set in place after their devastating loss to Delaware State in the MEAC tournament last year.
“After the last game (of) last year we’ve been on a mission,” Anderson said. “We’ve had a mindset to do much better this year, make a run in the tournament and make it to the regionals.”
Among the seniors is catcher Jackie Miles Jr. The Rattlers lost Miles Jr. in 2017 due to an in-practice injury. After having to watch from the sidelines last year, he rejoins teammates on the field this season and is excited to be back behind the plate.
“You never know how much you’re going to miss it until its taken away from you. Now that I’m back out playing it means everything,” Miles Jr. said.
Besides having an experienced senior class, Shouppe brought in a handful of junior college transfers this year as well. Two local transfers from Tallahassee Community College stood out to Shouppe in preseason practices as strong position players, outfielder Jordan Curtis and infielder Brett Maxwell.
“I feel like everyone is clicking well,” said senior first baseman Brian Davis. “There’s a lot of freshman and junior college guys and everyone came in clicking.”
A highlight to the 2018 season will be the talented pitching staff. Shouppe said he feels better this year than he did last year about his pitching.
“We continue to get better arms that give Coach Henry something to work with,” he said. “Going back to when we first began five years ago, we had one pitcher that threw over 85 miles an hour. Last year we were excited because we had three. This year we have eight that throw 90 miles an hour or above. We’re starting to get more quality arms in here.”
Among Shouppe’s talented pitching staff is three freshmen who have impressed him in the preseason and are expected to appear somewhere in the rotation this season; Pedro de los Rios, Jeremiah McCollum and William Walter.
“The future is very bright with those kids in our program,” Shouppe said in regard to the three freshmen.
The 2018 campaign is underway and Rattler baseball is locked and loaded.