FAMU opens baseball season with impressive series win
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Coach Jamey Shouppe saw some telling evidence in FAMU’s opening series of the season that should have given him a clear indication just how good the Rattlers could be this season.
They proved they could blow out a competitive opponent, beating the Wofford Terriers 14-2 in the season opener.
FAMU took a 3-2 loss in the second game. Then, they closed out the series by holding off a Wofford rally in the bottom of the ninth inning at Kittle-Moore Field on Sunday.
But Shouppe hedged on saying what could be a safe speculation: This year’s version of the Rattlers has shown the potential to be the best he’s assembled in five seasons at the helm.
“We’ve got to keep working,” Shouppe said. “Defensively we can’t do what we did in the ninth inning, but I told the guys I’m not going to dwell on the ninth inning. I’m going to dwell on two out of three this weekend against a very good Wofford club.”
One thing for certain is that the Rattlers can produce plenty of hits, total 41 in the three games for a .387 team batting average. In all they scored 27 runs, while giving up 14 to the Terriers.
“We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of talent and it’s contagious,” said Aubrey McCarty, an outfielder/pitcher, who impressed on the mound and in the field. “When we get around each other, everybody feeds off each other.”
All that from a FAMU team that lost five of its best hitters at the end of last season. Their replacements aren’t doing too badly, though.
“We bonded quickly,” junior first baseman Brian Davis, who batted 3 for 4 with a run batted in on Sunday. “It was good to see the new guys step in and the guys that are already here took them in under their wings. Everybody is having a good time.”
McCarty gave the Rattlers five solid innings in the finale and had seven hits on the weekend. When he left in the fifth, the Rattlers had taken the lead back after trailing 2-1.
McCarty’s lone hit on Sunday was good for the tying run in the bottom of the fifth with bases loaded. A Dallas Oliver double cleared the bases. One more run in the sixth and two in the seventh staked FAMU to an 8-2 lead, before Wofford’s rally that fell short to secure the win for McCarty.
The biggest out for the Rattlers came in the ninth inning when Max McDougald came to the plate with bases loaded and FAMU clinging to a two-run lead. McDougald had proven his power with a home run in the opening game, but reliever Hunter Fillingim worked him to a 2-2 count and set him down with a curveball.
That convinced Shouppe to let the junior college transfer from Florida State College-Jacksonville finish the game.
“I said, you know what; that’s my guy,” said Shouppe explaining his decision. “I’m going to stay with him. Win or lose.
“That guy (McDougald) could really hit (but) Hunter did what he does. He threw a curveball down and he chased it down for strike three.”