Rattlers have short trip to NCAA regional



FAMU will need all the hitting it could get when it opens the NCAA tournament on Friday at FSU. Photo courtesy of FAMU athletics

The FAMU softball team will see a familiar foe in the NCAA Regional tournament but they won’t be taking what has been a regular postseason trip to Gainesville. Instead, the Rattlers will travel less than five miles across Gaines Street to face Florida State.

They open play Friday at 2:30 p.m. at JoAnne Graff Field.

FAMU (27-28), secured the postseason berth by capturing its third consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference by beating Bethune-Cookman University this past weekend in Ormond Beach. The Rattlers will be facing the No. 8 seed in the Seminoles (48-8) in a game that will be shown on ESPN3.com.

Friday’s game will be the third meeting between the Tallahassee schools this season. FSU won games, 10-1 and 12-3.

South Florida (44-14) and South Carolina (36-21) join the two local teams in the tournament. They face each other at noon Friday.

The winner of the Tallahassee Regional will face the Lexington (Ky.) Regional winner in the best-of-three Super Regional round next week.

FSU also securing the Atlantic Coast Conference title the third consecutive season.

“We are extremely excited to be a top eight seed,” said FSU head coach Lonnie Alameda. “This team worked really hard this season and I am really proud for the girls in the program and all of the alumni and everyone who has helped build this program. Now it is time to get to work and go after what we need to this weekend.”

FAMU beat the Wildcats 8-1 in the deciding game of the tournament. FAMU had dropped the opening game, 8-3 to the Wildcats (22-31), but unleashed a 12-hit attack in the deciding game, sparked by Kieifi Myrick. She had two hits, including a second inning solo homer and two RBIs.

Jessica Nathan, Tashayla Irvis, Toni Anderson and Whitney Farris also had two hits piece for FAMU, with Farris, Anderson, Miesha McBride and Alexis Day each driving in a run.

Leading 1-0 after Myrick’s second inning shot, the Lady Rattlers scored six runs in the third to build a 7-0 lead.

The teams traded single runs in the fifth to close the scoring at 8-1.

Sophomore Veronica Burse (10-14) went the distance in the pitching circle, allowing one run off three scattered hits with three strikeouts.

Burse, native of Atlanta, Ga., was named the Tournament’s Outstanding Player, and she was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Alexis Day, Jessica Nathan and Kenya Pereira.

FAMU coach Veronica Wiggins was named Outstanding Tournament Coach for the 10th time in her 25-year career, after securing the school’s 12th title.

In the earlier game, Bethune-Cookman scored eight runs over a two-inning stretch to force the second and deciding.

FAMU scored its three runs on home runs – a two-run blast by freshman Alexis Day in the bottom of the first, and a solo shot by Amber Fullwood in the bottom of the fourth.

Bethune Cookman took the lead for good in the top of the third at 4-2 on a two out grand slam by freshman Brianna Sanders.

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