By Endesha Robinson/FAMU Sports Information Intern
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Dec. 10) –The 2018 MEAC baseball championship is being moved from Salisbury, MD to Daytona Beach, FL. This change positions the Rattlers at a shorter distance to travel as well as provides them the opportunity to be able to play at a minor league stadium. Rattler baseball head coach, Jamey Shouppe, is excited about the convenience the change provides and is looking forward to his team having the opportunity to play at a stadium where many of their idols played.
“The distance for us to travel is a lot easier. It’s a four-hour trip versus about a 12-hour trip via bus. But, as long as the venue of which we play is at a professional stadium, it will be a pleasant change for us and a good change for us,” Shouppe said.
Many speculate whether or not the championship being moved to Bethune-Cookman gives the rattlers more incentive being that they are in much closer range. However, according to Shouppe that advantage ultimately relies on the number one seed coming out of the tournament. With the rattlers being the number one seed coming out of the tournament Shouppe believes that his team has a good chance of bringing home the championship this year.
“Our job is to play as well as we can during the regular season to position ourselves the best we can for the tournament so that we can take advantage of the advantage that gives us by being the number one seed, hopefully.”
Even with a new and exciting change for the Rattlers, adversity still counters amongst them because of injuries standing with key players on the team.
“I’m excited about the team although we still have a couple of injuries”, says Shouppe. “We’re hoping the guys will respond to our lead off hitter from last year John Capra, who played short stop for us last year and will play short or second for us again this year”.
FAMU catcher Jackie Miles Jr. was a key player for the Rattlers. He did not play at all last year because of a back injury, leaving a huge question mark for the team.
“Miles is crucial for us just because of the leadership and maturity that he brings to our baseball club and not to mention he was .328 hitter two years ago”, states Shouppe. “His recovery from this injury is going to be crucial for us.”
Despite the change and challenges that the Rattlers face in such an important season for them, they continue to propel forward and keep their goal at what it’s been from day one, winning.
“Like every season, our goal doesn’t change, and that is to win the MEAC. That is what we state from day one of practice and it will be no different this year,” Shouppe concluded.