Stanley Brooks, Correspondent (@StanleyBrooksFS on Twitter)
The Rattlers of Florida A&M University’s baseball team are excited to start their season against the Wofford College Terriers of the Southern Conference on Friday. The Rattlers have been making major improvements to their program for the last three years under head coach Jamey Shouppe.
Shouppe won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference coach of the year award in 2016 for the second time in his first three years of coaching. He was able to guide the Rattlers their first 30+ win season since 1980.
The Rattlers are looking to improve off of being back-to-back MEAC Southern Champions without their starting catcher and team captain Jackie Myles Jr. Myles Jr. was ruled out for the season Monday after he tore his posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Shouppe was confident that his pitchers will still be able to pitch well even without Myles Jr. behind the plate to catch for them.
“We feel like we’re better pitching. We got a few more power arms that we have not had since I’ve been in this program,” Shouppe said. “We’re excited about our pitchers this year. We feel like we’re going to be a little better on the hill.”
The Rattlers are still hopeful about the upcoming season with the new change in the batting lineup since Myles Jr. is out for the season.
“John Capra will lead off for us and play shortstop this year. We feel he’s going to be our on base percentage type guy for us, only struck out either none or one time for us this past fall,” Shouppe said.
The Rattlers will start the season by playing 13 of their first 14 games at home to help their players miss fewer classes. The stretch of home games gives the fans more chances to witness FAMU build on to the rising program that they have.
“With us playing a lot of home games it keeps our kids in the classroom,” Shouppe said. “If we go on one road trip, it’s going to cost us about $1,300-$1,400. So it’s cost productive to bring teams to play early in the season. It’s great for the home fan base and it’s great for our kids to stay in the classroom and get caught up their classroom stuff so that when we do start to travel a little bit they aren’t behind.”