GAINESVILLE, Fla (May 20) – The Florida A&M Lady Rattlers ended their 2017 campaign in a contested battle against the FIU Panthers in the first round of the NCAA college softball tournament. The Rattlers outhit the Panthers, but were unable to sustain continuity to score on FIU in the elimination game today in front of a crowd of 1,100 at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. The Rattlers saw their hopes of extending their stay in NCAA Tournament play end here on a hot Saturday afternoon in a hard-fought 3-0 loss to FIU.
Senior centerfielder Whitney Farris, carded two hits for the Rattlers, while six other Rattlers scattered one hit each. All four of the top of the order for FAMU got hits, but the team was unable to manufacture scoring.
Tahlia Snider took the loss for the Rattlers, going 3.1 innings, scattering three hits and allowing two runs. She managed four strikeout and gave up four walks. Kenya Pereira closed out the game, going 2.2 innings. She allowed one run on two hits. All runs scored by FIU were earned. The Rattlers and Panthers each made one error in the game.
The Rattlers (23-32-1) won the MEAC title, their fourth in a row, on May 14th, in a two-game sweep of the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats. That win marked the fourth consecutive tournament championship and NCAA bid for FAMU; a feat previously untapped.
The Rattlers, who trailed 2-0 after FIU scored single runs in the first and third innings, had a golden opportunity to break through in the sixth, getting three straight hits from Tashayla Irvis, Amber Fullwood and Toni Anderson.
Irvis tried to advance to home plate on Anderson's hit to right field, but was cut down at the plate. Shakayla Nixon, pinch running for Anderson, was thrown out at second on a steal attempt, then Alexis Day grounded to short to end the threat.
While in a losing effort, head coach Veronica Wiggins was complementary of her team's performance Saturday. "I thought we competed today. We wanted to prove that we belong on this stage, that yesterday's showing (against Florida) was not who we are as a team."
Florida A&M loses six seniors, who will all graduate this Summer, who have won the conference championship and participated in the NCAA Regionals all four years of their eligibility.
*With their fourth consecutive MEAC championship, seniors Denise Anderson, Whitney Farris, Amber Fullwood, Tashayla Irvis, Miesha McBride and Kenya Pereira earned the prestigious Lillian Hagins Award. The award is named after the longtime FAMU Athletics administrative assistant who served the department with honor and unmatched service. The award is presented by the National Rattler “F” support organization to student-athletes who win four consecutive MEAC Championships.
*With the MEAC championship this season, Veronica Wiggins holds the lead for most tournament championships with 13. Earlier this year she earned her 700th victory, the most by an HBCU Division-I coach.