TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The fall season has arrived for the Florida A&M baseball team, and while it's just enough to get us excited for the spring, it's important for the Rattlers as they look to improve off last spring's success and gear up for another big run.
"We feel like our talent level is a little bit better this year," said head coach Jamey Shouppe. "Whether or not we're good enough as coaches and good enough as a team to make that calculate into more wins next season, that's what we're out here practicing to determine."
The Rattlers are off to a pretty good start on the talent front, as 21 players return from last year's historic season, including nine pitchers, and a wealth of newcomers, six of which have collegiate experience.
"You know, when you have a freshman, you kind of have to build and teach them the game," said senior pitcher Brandon Fleming. "When they come in from JUCO, they're just ready to compete right away and help us out a lot."
"They know the game, and that's what coach loves," laughed Marlon Gibbs, a redshirt senior outfielder. "They know the game of baseball, they're always looking for the baseball, and they're ready to go."
They're ready to go expand on that historical season, and after a taste of the NCAA Tournament, the Rattlers aren't just satisfied with getting there this time.
"We're going to compete," said Shouppe. "That's the thing that we looked at as a coaching staff that we were disappointed in. Certainly we were excited to be there, but we were disappointed in the way we competed."
"Last year was a blast, you know, winning the MEAC Championship, so we hope we can build on that success," said Fleming. "It's going to be a great fall. We're just putting our system right now. It should be smooth sailing into the season. It should be a lot of fun."
Smooth sailing straight to another MEAC Championship, and hopefully a lot more. The first chance to catch the Rattlers on their five game fall slate is October 13th when they host Darton College.
FAMU hosts also Chipola State College (Oct. 15), Gulf Coast State College (Oct. 19), and NW Florida State College (Oct. 21) all at Moore-Kittles Field before wrapping up the fall schedule at Tallahassee Community College on October 27.
All games are scheduled for a 5:00 PM first pitch.