COVID forces softball team to quarantine

FAMU softball coach Constance Orr. Photo courtesy FAMU athletics

COVID-19 has struck the FAMU softball team and kept the Rattlers from playing their first 11 games of the 2021 season.

The FAMU Athletic Department has not made any announcements regarding the status of the softball team or provided updated information as to why the team has yet to play a game.

The coronavirus caused an early end to the season last year, and has put a pause on the beginning of this year’s softball season.

Players expressed their concerns due to the pandemic affecting two seasons, and not facing an opponent since last March.

Sophomore outfielder Melkayla Irvis said the cancellations and postponed games were a curveball for the team. “It was very unexpected, and threw us completely off. We took it as everything happens for a reason, and every opportunity we get on the field we are going to take full advantage of it,” Irvis said.

The Rattlers’ first 11 games of the season have been either postponed or canceled. These opponents included teams such as Florida State University, University of Georgia and Mercer University.

A member of the Rattlers’ coaching staff and one player tested positive for COVID-19, according to players, causing the team to stop all practices and play. Other athletic teams were notified of the positive cases, causing the locker rooms in Gaither gymnasium to be closed.

The Rattlers’ softball team has been able to work on their team chemistry throughout this time of quarantine. Pitcher Nadia Zenteno says the team has become more cohesive during the pandemic. “Not only has this time brought us closer together, but it has shown us not to take things for granted. This was just a minor setback, for a major comeback,” Zenteno said.

The team appears to be taking full advantage in preparation for their return to the field. Catcher Kenyaamari Jones is excited for the team’s upcoming double header. “By continuing to trust our process, and having faith in our four months of preparation. It is exciting to be back on the field.”

After years of dominating the MEAC, the Rattlers’ softball team will join the rest of the Florida A&M programs in the SWAC at the conclusion of this season.

The Rattlers are scheduled to resume play this weekend against Southeastern Louisiana in a double-header at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Friday at FSU’s Seminole Softball Complex.