Softball team shines at HBCU Classic

2023 SWAC Preseason All-SWAC Second team outfielder Melkayla Irvis. Photo courtesy: Ashley Bigbee

Whether rain or shine, the electricity in the dugout or on the field, The Rattlers have made a name for themselves while competing at the HBCU Classic Tournament in Montgomery hosted by Alabama State softball this past weekend.

On Friday, Feb. 24 FAMU’s softball team faced off against the Southern University Jaguars in an electrifying rematch to win the game 2-1 in a true walk-off fashion. Defensively, senior pitcher Nadia Zenteno held off the Jag’s offense by only allowing one run score among three hits, four walks and striked out three batters. On the offensive side, senior Melkayla Irvis went two for two at the plate and scored the winning run after running to home plate once an error at 3rd base occurred.

The Rattlers and Jags faced off early in the morning the following day on Saturday, Feb. 25 beating them 2-0. Defensively, sophomore Lauryn Peppers threw a one hit shutout against Southern’s offense. In contrast, on the Rattlers offensive end, senior Natasha Fox hit a run batted in to allow senior Nyah Morgan the first run for The Rattlers in the fourth inning. During the seventh inning, senior Destiny Cueveas hit a home run into deep left-center field to put The Rattlers up 2-0.

Later that evening, the team faced off against Alabama A&M to defeat them 4-3. Senior Cris’Deona Beasley struck out six batters while only allowing two walks and two hits. The highest scoring inning for the Rattlers was in the first inning, when they were able to put up four runs and maintain that lead with the help of the three seniors Jane’a Mobley who went two for two at the plate and two RBIs, Destiny Cuevas going one for two at her at bats with a double and an RBI while Nyah Morgan contributed to a double and RBI as well.

To conclude the four game series, the ladies faced off against the South Carolina State on Sunday, Feb. 26. Things had gotten a little hectic in the first inning for the Rattlers when the Bulldogs had scored five runs between walks and hits. The team was able to strike back with the help of senior Melkayla Irvis’ two RBIs and two triples as well as senior Jania Davis putting up a triple and three RBIs. Additionally, senior Destiny Cuevas put up three hits during her at bats, adding a double and two RBIs. The Rattlers went on to win the game 13-8.

The FAMUAN was able to catch up with the Preseason All-SWAC Second Team outfielder, senior Melkayla Irvis, about her experience at this past weekend’s tournament and what she’s looking forward to this season.

“The first day we beat Southern, I felt an adrenaline rush and so many different emotions of excitement,” Irvis said. “It was a very intense game, creating more fuel to beat them again. Comparing my confidence to the beginning of this season to now, it has grown.”

“By being in the SWAC for two years now, I know what to expect and how I can play with their defense,” Ivris added.

By earning Preseason SWAC Honors and leading the team with an exceptional batting average of .636, Irvis said that with this being her senior year, she’ll continue to put in extra work both on and off the field and keep God first going into SWAC conference play in March.

Florida A&M softball head coach Camiese Patterson also reflected about what happened at the HBCU Classic and what to expect from the team coming up this season.

“My goal was for the team to continue to hit the ball hard and for us to play better defense,” Patterson said. “Overall, our goal for the tournament was to use this as a gauge going into the upcoming conference schedule. We knew we had the ability to sweep all four of the teams this weekend if played how we knew how,” Patterson added. “This weekend, everything came together. Hitting was on point, pitching was excellent, defense made a lot of stops and some really great plays were made.”

With their first home game coming up on Wednesday, March 1, Patterson advises fans not to miss out on this match.

“The thing I would tell people is make sure you get a seat,” Patterson said. “ We’re going to bring a lot of excitement, and we’re going to score a lot of runs. You’re going to see a team that likes to have fun but also knows how to get the job done on the field. So make sure you come out and get to the games early because you won’t want to miss what we have coming up this season.”

To stay up to date with FAMU softball this season, follow their Instagram and Twitter @FAMU_Softball and @FAMUAthletics for team schedules, news, and other sporting events.