Despite losses, baseball team has eyes on championship title

The FAMU Rattlers baseball team came into the 2008 season with high hopes and tons of confidence in their abilities to win. The season is not going the way the team thought it would, nevertheless the team still has the confidence.

The team is optimistic about the chances of playing for a MEAC championship and competing for a national championship as well. Sophomore Darryl Evans, 20, who serves as centerfield on the team, said the Rattlers have high hopes. He said he expects to finish with a winning record and a MEAC championship.

Head coach Robert Lucas thinks the same way as his players. He said he wouldn’t expect anything less.

“I expect to play in a championship game at season’s end,” said Lucas, who replaced former head coach Joe Durant back in August. Lucas also served as head coach between the years of 1986 to 1991. He said the season so far has been rather sluggish.

“(It’s) very slow and unbecoming,” he said.

With 21 games remaining on the schedule, the FAMU baseball team sits seven games under .500. The Rattlers have a 7-14 record at the halfway mark of the season. The championship is a team goal for the baseball players and they agree they will have to work very hard to get to where they want to be at season’s end.

Despite the number of losses, the team seems to be progressing as the season continues to move on. The Rattlers have won five of their last seven games, and some of the players are pleased with their new results.

Freshman Tim Jones, 19, said the team is progressing and that pitching and defense are two of the major areas where there has been improvement.

“I think everything is average and there is always room for improvement,” said Jones, a general studies student from Atlanta.

When it comes to what the team needs to do down the stretch to finish on a good note, the players and coach are all on one accord. They seem to agree that consistency, focus, and more teamwork would be big factors in competing for a possible championship.

Even though the team’s record does not indicate it, there have been a few bright spots to keep an eye on for the remainder of the season. Lucas said freshman pitcher Anthony Espin has been a strong point for the team.

“I think he is pretty effective when called upon and has a lot of upside,” Lucas said.

If the baseball team expects to be in that championship game at season’s end then it will have to win. The Rattlers took a step in the right direction Thursday by beating Concordia College by 10 runs. The final score was 11-1.

Coming up, the Rattlers have a doubleheader against Mercer lined up for Tuesday at 1 p.m. on the Moore-Kittles baseball field. The Rattlers played Mercer back in March and lost both games with scores of 12-0 and 7-6.

The team hopes to avenge those losses and leave the field as champions.