Postseason Hopes End in Regional for FAMU Softball
By James Celeste
Despite beginning the season with 12 straight losses, the Florida A&M softball team advanced to NCAA postseason play.
The Rattlers beat archrival Bethune-Cookman 2-0 to win their second consecutive and 11th overall Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.
“We kept persevering,” FAMU assistant coach Lori Goodart said. “It’s really about how you finish the season. It’s not about the start. Everything that we dealt with was a challenge and it was to make us better at the end. Ultimately when you get to a tournament there are no stats. You just have to go out there and play and I think really we just persevered.”
Pitching played a great role for the Rattlers and sophomore pitcher Kenya Pereira had no problem leading the charge. She pitched all five FAMU games, going 4-1, allowing just four earned runs in 35 innings, with 11 strikeouts against just eight walks.
Pereira’s performance earned her the MEAC tournament’s most outstanding player award for the second consecutive year.
“She’s a competitor,” said Goodart. “She’s willing to take the load and carry it and do what she needs to do until the offense comes around.”’
Florida A&M’s schedule was very competitive. Five of the teams the Rattlers played in the regular season made it to the NCAA Regionals: Florida State, Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Louisville and Lehigh.
“Our schedule prepared us and it had grown and got us to a place where we knew how to deviate distractions and go play the game and accept whatever the game brings to us,” FAMU coach Veronica Wiggins said.
The Rattler’s season ended at the NCAA Gainesville Regional last weekend. FAMU lost to the defending national champions, the University of Florida, 6-0 last Friday – the second straight year FAMU has lost to the Gators in the postseason. Wiggins said her team played better than last year, when Florida run-ruled the Rattlers after five innings.
“They made sure we were able to go seven innings this time,” Wiggins said.
FAMU then faced Florida Atlantic University in the elimination round, losing 7-2 last Saturday.
“We accomplished a lot this season, but we can get better and want to take this team beyond the regionals,” Wiggins said. “I believe with the core of players coming back, and some of the incoming recruits we have, we will be able to do just that. … That will be our focus for next year.”