Some 14 games remain in the 2016 regular season for the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), Women’s Softball team, and the two-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) champions are rounding into championship form.
Coach Veronica Wiggins’ club recently swept three games from MEAC Southern Division foe South Carolina State University, 12-0, 19-0 and 16-4, to take over sole possession of first place in the division with a perfect 6-0 record.
Through 36 games this season, the Lady Rattlers are 17-19 (as of April 5), one win shy of their entire win total of 2015 (18), riding an eight-game winning streak. The wins were a part of a hot streak of success that saw the group win 12 of 16 games thanks to a veteran team which is reaching a peak of maturity.
Softball’s Winning Keys
The major factor in FAMU’s success has been the 2014 recruiting class, a core group of six juniors who swept to the MEAC title as freshmen (2014), and repeated as league winners in 2015.
Pitcher Kenya Pereira, infielders Amber Fullwood and Miesha McBride, catcher Denise Anderson, and speedy outfielders Whitney Farris and Tashayla Irvis came to FAMU together and are determined to make program history before they are done.
However, the team’s savvy coach Wiggins added more pieces to the mix over the last two years: current senior Jessica Nathan, a junior college infielder a year ago, who was voted team captain; sophomore pitcher Veronica Burse, whose array pitches have twice baffled the nation’s number one team, the University of Florida; and a group of talented freshmen this year, led by outfielder/designated hitter Alexis Day; pitcher/infielder Tahlia Snider and infielder Taylor Rosier.
Softball Inside The Numbers
The FAMU team has vastly improved performance numbers from last year’s championship team, hitting .296 through 36 games, compared to their finishing average of .238 through 57 games in 2015.
The Lady Rattlers have been especially dangerous at the plate since midseason, hitting .385 in their last 10 games, with 21 doubles, six home runs, five triples and 83 runs scored.
Offensively, FAMU is on pace to surpass all their offensive numbers from last year when they finished with just two players hitting over .300.
In 2016, FAMU boasts of seven .300 hitters and four others above .250, paced by senior second baseman Jessica Nathan, a First-Team Preseason All-MEAC selection, who is living up to advance billing, hitting .341, with team highs in runs (23), hits (42), doubles (7), triples (6) and at-bats (123), while ranking second in homers (3) and RBI (18).
Also making great strides are junior outfielder Whitney Farris (.410), followed by junior outfielder Tashayla Irvis (.397), Nathan (.341), junior infielder Raven Moseley (.333), junior infielder/pitcher Amber Fullwood (.318), senior Kieifi Myrick (.306), junior Miesha McBride (.306), freshman Alexis Day (.294) and sophomore Toni Anderson (.280).
The FAMU Pitching staff to include junior, Kenya Pereira, Sophomore Veronica Burse, junior Amber Fullwood and freshman Tahlia Snider has also excelled this season, with a 3.81 ERA, almost a run under last year’s 4.59 mark, recording 149 strikeouts so far (with 14 games, plus the MEAC Tournament left) versus 188 last season.