Off to a Hot Start
The Rattlers are off to a 9-3 start, the best start under head coach Jamey Shouppe who is in his fourth season at the helm. FAMU has won all three of the weekend series it has played, and swept a midweek series against Mercer. Of the three losses the Rattlers have, two have been by two runs or less.
Dominating the Southern Conference
So far in 2017 the Rattlers have dominated Southern Conference teams, combining for a 6-2 record. FAMU has outscored Southern Conference teams by 22 runs with a total of 74-52 through eight games. The Rattlers opened the season by winning two out of three games, taking the series against Wofford. FAMU then swept Mercer in a pair of midweek games this week, and won the series against East Tennessee State this weekend by winning two out of the three games.
Back to Back Player of the Week Awards
The MEAC announced this week that junior Brian Davis was awarded the conference Player of the Week. In five games, Davis finished the week batting .471 (8-for-17) with two doubles, a homerun, and 10 RBI. Davis also had a .765 slugging percentage and .654 on base percentage to help the Rattlers go 4-1 on the week. With eight hits, the junior raised his average from .259 to .341 and had three multi-hit performances. Davis had a 3-RBI double to help beat Mercer 9-6, and had a double and a 3-RBI homerun to help beat East Tennessee State 7-3.
This makes back to back weeks that the Rattlers have taken home the MEAC Player of the Week honors, as Ben Ellzey won in Week 2. Both Davis and Ellzey have paced the Florida A&M offense, hitting second and third in the batting order for every game this season. Davis currently leads the team in homeruns (2), total bases (24), RBI (17), and walks (12). Ellzey is second on the team in average (.383), hits (18), and on base percentage (.500).
Other Player Notes
Grant picked up two wins this week and is currently tied for first in the nation with four victories. In four relief appearances, Grant tossed 7.2 innings and allowed only five hits and three earned runs.
Freshman Eric Blanc, Jr. came up with two clutch hits in an extra inning thriller versus East Tennessee State on Sunday. Blanc came off the bench and delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth as part of a nine-run comeback. Blanc then came up with the walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the tenth inning, giving the Rattlers their third series win of the season.
Rattler Offense National Rankings
The Florida A&M offense has picked up right where they left off last season, ranking in the top 50 nationally in several categories.
· 6th in walks (70)
· 36th in batting average (.314)
· 15th in hits (136)
· 20th in on base percentage (.419)
· 27th in runs (93)
· 39th in scoring (7.8 runs per game)
Florida A&M MEAC Rankings
The Rattlers are ranked first in the MEAC in seven major team categories and second in three.
· 1st in batting average (.314), hits (136), RBI (83), walks (70), on base percentage (.419), saves (4), and wins (9).
· 2nd in team ERA (4.14), homeruns (5), and total bases (165).
Coming Up Next
Florida A&M will travel to Daytona Beach, FL to face conference rival Bethune-Cookman for the first conference series of the season. Friday’s game will start at 1:00 PM and will be aired on ESPNU and will also be available on the Watch ESPN App. Saturday’s doubleheader is also scheduled to begin at 1:00 PM.
Bethune-Cookman enters the series with an 8-3 overall record. The Wildcats have played in six one-run games this year and have won all six of those contests. They dropped two games in Fort Myers against Florida Gulf Coast and one game at home against Tennessee Tech for their three losses on the season.
So far in 2017, the Wildcats are led by juniors Tyler Norris and Jameel Edney, sophomore Danny Rodriguez, and senior Austin Garcia. Tyler Norris (1-0, 3.86 ERA), the preseason MEAC Pitcher of the Year, leads the team in innings pitched and strikeouts. Jameel Edney is leading the team in hits (15), doubles (6), runs scored (9), and batting average (.375). Austin Garcia is currently batting .368 with 14 hits and is second on the team in doubles (3) and RBI (6). Danny Rodriguez, the preseason MEAC Player of the Year, is batting .357 and currently leads the team in homeruns (2) and RBI (9).
The Rattlers have improved every year against the Wildcats since Coach Shouppe took over the program in 2014.
Year Record Run Differential
2014 1-5 21-38
2015 4-3 24-18
2016 4-3 40-28
This weekend at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, Florida A&M will look to continue their hot start and repeat what they accomplished at the beginning of conference play last season. In 2016, FAMU swept Bethune-Cookman during the first conference series of the season on their way to an 11-1 first half record versus MEAC opponents, which was the best start to conference play in program history.
As always, fans can follow Rattler Baseball on Twitter @BaseballFAMU, on Instagram @famu_baseball, and on Facebook.