Pitcher Chandellor Benton gets ready to throw a pitch against Mercer. Photo Courtesy of FAMU Athletics.com
As the season for the Florida A&M Baseball team is underway, they are looking to defend their MEAC championship. However, the reigning champs already face doubt to be able to repeat their successes.
In the conference preseason poll, the Rattlers were chosen second behind conference rivals North Carolina A&T State to be able to win the conference championship. Rattlers Head Baseball Coach Jamey Shouppe expressed his feelings on his team being placed second in the MEAC.
“Well I think it goes along with the challenges of this season we’re looking for things to motivate this team,” Shouppe said. “Because we’re not permitted because the NCAA sanctions us to go to the postseason this year.”
Despite the snub from the conference Coach Shouppe sees this a motivation to start the season and proved the doubters wrong.
“We’re playing for pride this year we’re not playing for a postseason run. We’re simply just playing for pride. I want to see these guys come out and prove who the best team is we are defending champions,” said Shouppe.
Shouppe continued, “It worked good that this is the first year that we played a complete schedule. There’s no Northern and Southern division. It’s just one schedule one conference we win the conference, like football, did this past season. Just try to win the regular and let that speak for itself.”
The baseball team was one of 6 sports teams at FAMU that were disqualified from making the postseason for the 2019-2020 season. That hurt the Rattlers chances in claiming that first place spot.
Coach Shouppe wasn’t the only one who was displeased about being projected to finish second in the MEAC. Players expressed their feelings about this snub, Outfielders Cirr-Nicholas Bohannon and Seyjuan Lawrence who made second-team all-conference preseason team gave their grievances about the conference poll.
“This motivates me because no one gives respect. Time after time we have to prove ourselves it makes us work harder to show people that we have the talent and can play with the best,” said Lawrence.
“I feel that putting us as projected to be in 2nd place was a mistake however I do feel that this helps us remember that although we are champions, we must still work as if we’re not,” said Bohannon.
Coach Shouppe and his players are right, but with the season the corner the Rattlers don’t just have to talk about their frustration of the (MEAC) conference snubbing them. They can prove everyone especially in their conference wrong and who’s the better team in MEAC by winning the tournament again this year.
The Rattlers(1-1, 0-0) next game will take place on February 19th, at home against Mercer(4-0, 0-0) at 4 p.m.