Shouppe has high expectations for FAMU baseball team
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Reminding his FAMU baseball players that he will be expecting more from them this season has become part of coach Jamey Shouppe’s daily mantra.
He not only wants more from his players, but his part of the bargain is to give them more time on the field. But that’s only if it’s earned, he said.
“I tell guys all the time; if you want to play more, play better (and) if you want to pitch more pitch better,” Shouppe said. “It’s just that simple. I like winning and our coaching staff likes winning and we are going to put the guys out there that give us the best opportunity to win.”
One reason Shouppe wants to win is because he’s set a team goal to surpass the school-record 31 victories that they recorded in 2016.
“We are going to play to win,” he said. “As long as they put runs on that scoreboard, we’re going to play to win. That’s key for us.”
They’ll try to start to win when they open the season on Feb. 16 in a three-game series at home against Marshall University. This will mark the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Rattlers open against the Thundering Herd.
At least 12 players – all seniors – won’t need much prodding. The number of seniors is the most he’s had on his team since taking over the program five years ago.
While the seniors have experience on their side, pitcher Ryan Anderson figures the bigger task would be to help bring the younger players up to speed quickly.
“It’s not pressure at all,” he said. “It’s just showing the new guys things we’ve learned. Every day we have workouts and if we see somebody doing something wrong we have to give advice and tell them things we learned from the coaches.”
The new faces on the roster are many, most of them recruits. The list includes pitcher Jeremiah McCallum, along with Will Walters and Deven Shulstad. Jordan Curtis, a product of Lincoln High School, who played last season at outfielder for TCC. They lead a short list of transfers brought in during the off season.
Chemistry has already developed between newcomers and returning players, said infielder Brian Davis.
“When you have guys to your right and left that you can absolutely trust, it just clicks,” he said. “When it starts clicking, it rolls. Baseball is a game of momentum when you get it rolling it’s hard to stop it.”
Following the Marshall series, FAMU will play a few more mid-major programs. Shouppe said he would have liked to have a program like UF on his schedule again but since a 2014 upset of the then No. 6 Gators, big programs have been difficult to schedule.
“They don’t look at us and put that W up on the calendar anymore,” he said. “Our job is to take this program and make it something that not only the other teams respect but more importantly that we respect them.”
That goes for the 12 seniors more than any other player on the team.