Softball team Spirit Day shutout

Despite a sweeping loss to the Florida State University Lady Seminoles, the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference Tournament looks bright for the Lady Rattlers, who are the defending champions.

In Wednesday’s Spirit Day game against FSU (22-12), the Lady Rattlers were stumped by being no-hit 8-0 while struggling to find their offensive game. However, the defense gave head coach Veronica Wiggins something to talk about. “Today, I saw a unit, and a group of women who played through many innings,” Wiggins said. The Lady Rattlers pitchers totaled seven strikeouts and 21 putouts to hold the Seminoles to two scores until the fifth inning. Only one error was committed by FAMU defensively, compared to three by the Lady Noles. “I was very pleased,” said the six-time MEAC champion coach. “We’ve been struggling.”

Offensively, FAMU (7-27) registered three hits in the game by Rhianna Green, Alyssa Watts and Turelle Farmer. The offense, on the other hand, “just didn’t show up tonight,” Wiggins said. According to the University’s athletic department, Ashley Jones (4-9) took the loss for the Rattlers, giving up six earned runs and eight hits in five innings of play.

Jessica Gilmore, a pitcher for the Seminoles, gave FSU a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning scoring off a wild pitch. The Lady ‘Noles scored their next run in the top of the fifth inning on a triple rbi to increase the lead to a 3-0. FSU would eventually score three more runs in the top of sixth inning on a sacrifice fly and a two rbi double and two more to close the game out in the seventh inning 8-0.

Most of FSU’s runs were a result of playing smallball, batters being able to reach base and advancing on the base path on sacrifices and scoring on extra basehits.

The Lady ‘Noles were led by Tiffany McDonald (8-8) who struck oil, fanning seven batters in seven scoreless innings.

The displeasure of the offensive production filtered throughout the team as Nakendra Jones, a 21-year-old education student from Bartow expected the Lady Rattlers to bring the spirit home.

“I expected us to win,” Jones said. “I expected us to bring that intensity.”

These struggles plagued the softball team, as the senior was 0-3 at batting.

“The team has to bring our bats,” she said. “If our offense is on, there is no reason why we shouldn’t win.”

Wiggins, however, said the team just could not find that inch to bring home a win.

“It just wasn’t here tonight,” Wiggins said. “We are still a young team. Their pitcher (FSU) is very discipline, and we didn’t hit the ball.”

However, the dissatisfaction was short-lived, as the team has found something to build on: the defense, which has been getting better, gaining experience as each game passes.

“Today, we committed one error,” said infielder Melissa Oliphant, 18, a physical education student. “Our goal is to keep the defense tight.”

This year the Lady Rattlers defense has averaged three errors a game, but on Spirit Day, they limited the mistakes to one.

“I knew our defense was going to get a lot of ground balls,” said Oliphant. “I definitely think we shut them down in the first part of the game. The defense emerged and played tight.”

The Rattlers will begin MEAC conference play this weekend against North Carolina A&T University in a double-header Friday at 2 p.m. in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Lady Rattlers will return to their home field on March 28 for another double-header against Troy University.