Rattlers win SWAC, eye tournament

Ty Jackson rounds the bases Photo Credit: FAMU Baseball Instagram @famu_baseball_

Losing the final game of the regular season against Mississippi Valley State for FAMU baseball coach Jamey Shouppe was disappointing.

“Sometimes a loss can be good,” Shouppe said. “I think this one we’ll learn from not to take anything for granted.”

Winning the outright regular season SWAC championship for the first time in program history was the complete opposite.

“To be 22 and 8 in conference play is quite an accomplishment for these players,” Shouppe said.

The baseball team officially became regular season SWAC champions after their 13-3 series-clinching win over MVSU, in the first game of the doubleheader on Friday. They are the only team in the eastern division that will finish the season with 20 wins in conference play. Before the beginning of the second game, the program honored 17 seniors and their contributions to the program. Each player was given a framed photo and had opportunities to take a photo with Shouppe along with their families.

Shouppe admitted that the moment was bittersweet while also acknowledging that he was surprised at how many players he would not be coaching in 2025.

“For the seniors, there were some smiles and tears because it’s the last time they’ll play here at Moore-Kittles,” Shouppe said. 

Due to the Rattler’s complete domination in conference play, minus a couple of series losses against rival Bethune Cookman, it will not be the last time the Rattlers take the field.  Shouppe stated that his team had a lot of confidence heading into the tournament, stating that it started with the leadoff man, senior Ty Jackson.

“Ty’s always been our leader,” Shouppe said. “Confidence is like momentum.”

Jackson had an outstanding weekend for the Rattlers, hitting a home run in each of the two games in the doubleheader on Friday. Overall, Jackson had six hits in 12 at-bats in the series while driving in six runs. Jackson also created chaos on the basepaths, stealing four bags, three of them in FAMU’s 7-3 over MVSU on Thursday. The top of the lineup overall, led by Jackson with seniors True Fontenot and Janmikell Bastardo following, provided the majority of the offensive production for the Rattlers Thursday. All three provided five the seven runs scored and combined for six of the team’s 10 hits in the afternoon.

One of those being Bastardo’s sixth homerun of the season, a two-run shot over the wall in centerfield in the first inning that allowed FAMU to jump out to an early lead. The middle and bottom of the order stepped up to the plate in Game Two, helping to secure FAMU’s series win. 

Freshman Josue Figueroa broke out, driving in three runs on three hits, one of them being his second homer of the season to help extend FAMU’s lead in the fourth inning.  Senior Aiden Haidermota continued his campaign of his best offensive season in the orange and green, tacking on two more RBIs to his stat sheet. 

While the Rattlers only struck out once in game three, they were not able to secure a series sweep. The Delta Devils jumped on starting pitcher junior Jacob Granger in the fourth inning, scoring four runs off of a three-run home run by junior Benny Hernandez and an RBI single. 

Mississippi Valley State tacked on three more in the seventh and eighth innings to finish their season 12-34 and 4-26 in SWAC play.

Throughout the season, both junior Caleb Granger and freshman Carson Kelly have been consistent starting pitchers for the Rattlers. This series was no different  as both Granger and Kelly went the distance, each throwing six innings to help FAMU defeat MVSU in each of the first two games.

FAMU is the confirmed number one seed in the SWAC tournament beginning on Wednesday on the quest to defend their title. Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta, home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets baseball team, will host the tournament.

The Rattler’s performances over this season certainly gave the Rattler faithful confidence in their ability to repeat as champions. For the time being, however, Shouppe said that he would focus his attention on resting Saturday before preparing for the tournament.

“We’ll take tomorrow off,” Shouppe said. “We’ll practice Sunday afternoon sometime. We haven’t determined the time yet. After church sometime. And then we’ll practice Monday morning around 10 o’clock before we leave for Atlanta.”

FAMU will square off against the number four seed in the western division, which is projected to be Southern University, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22nd.