DURHAM, NC – The Florida A&M Baseball team (15-10, 5-1 MEAC) will travel to Durham, North Carolina to play a three-game series with North Carolina Central (13-13, 5-4 MEAC) this weekend. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1:00 PM and will wrap up the series on Sunday at 1:00 PM at Durham Athletic Park.
The series could be a pivotal one in the MEAC Southern Division race. The Rattlers enter the series with a 5-1 MEAC record, good for first place in the Southern Division, while the Eagles are currently in third place in the Southern Division with a 5-4 record.
FAMU has struggled as of late, dropping five out of their last six contests. Despite slipping to a 15-10 overall record the Rattlers are still ranked 35th in the nation in RPI and feature the tenth toughest strength of schedule in the country and the second toughest non-conference strength of schedule.
Florida A&M is led offensively by Kaycee Reese, Ben Ellzey and Aubrey McCarty. Reese leads the team with a .394 batting average, while McCarty leads in home runs (5), RBI (23) and extra-base hits (10). Ellzey, a 2016 First Team All-MEAC and 2017 Preseason First Team All-MEAC selection, leads the team with 35 hits and is second on the team with a .350 batting average.
Senior left-handed pitcher JoJo Durden will start Game 1 on Saturday while Ryan Anderson will throw Game 2. Both Durden and Anderson are coming off their best starts of the 2017 season last weekend against USF. Durden (2-1, 2.78 ERA) pitched a season high six innings against the Bulls, allowing only two earned runs, and setting a career high with eight strikeouts. Anderson (0-1, 3.40 ERA) set a career high with 7.1 innings pitched, matched a career high with six strikeouts, and did not allow an earned run. Anderson was dominant, leading the Rattlers to a 3-2 win over a South Florida program that is currently ranked 13th in the nation in RPI with a 23-3 record. Aubrey McCarty (2-2, 4.70 ERA) will start the series finale on the hill for the Rattlers on Sunday.
North Carolina Central also enters the weekend on a bit of a skid after dropping a pair of midweek games, but swept Southern Division foe Savannah State on the road last weekend.
The Eagles are paced by Ellington Hopkins (.414 AVG, 18 R), Carter Williams (.388 AVG, 40 H, 21 R, 9 2B) and Corey Joyce (.357 AVG, 35 H, 6 2B, 4 HR, 28 RBI). Devin Sweet (2-2, 4.11 ERA) will start Game 1, while North Carolina Central has yet to determine their starters for Games 2 and 3.
As always, fans can follow Rattler Baseball on Twitter @BaseballFAMU and on Facebook.---www.FAMUathletics.com---