In the opening game of the season at the Sand Dollar Class, Daphne, Alabama, the Rattlers must have thought they were still competing in the MEAC post-season playoff. Last year they struggled out of the gate and didn’t fully find their rhythm until the end of the season. In the MEAC Conference Championship playoff games they relied on the successful pitching of Kenya Pereira and just enough hits to outscore their opponents.
|WP: PEREIRA,Kenya (1-0); LP: JOHNSON, Jillian (0-1); Duration: 2:50|
Most teams would expect to win if they scored six points in a collegiate softball game. For the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles of the Conference USA six runs was not enough as the Rattlers outplayed the Eagles in almost every offensive category. The Golden Eagles collected 8 hits on 31 tries for a .258 batting average. That allowed them to take the lead at 5-2 in the 4th inning and tie the game at 6 in regulation. The Rattlers, however, found the hits when they needed them.
The Rattlers collected 15 hits on 38 tries for a .395 batting average. After the regulation 7 innings the game was tied at 6 all. Neither team scored in the 8th inning, then in the ninth inning the visiting Rattler’s second baseman Jessica Nathan hit a home run over the left field fence accounting for 3 runs on the play.
Using the extra inning rule the Golden Eagles began the bottom half of the 8th inning with a runner on second base. That runner would eventually cross home plate to score the only other run the Golden Eagles would make, and thus end the game with a Rattler win. Both teams left 9 runners on base, but overall FAMU was more opportunistic hitting a .476 percentage with runners on base compared to .235 for Southern Miss. FAMU hit .471 (8 of 17) with runners in scoring position compared to Southern Miss’s .235 (4 of 17).
Short stop Whitney Farris led all hitters going 3 for 4. Junior Kenya Pereira pitched the entire game including extra innings and helped her cause by hitting .500 going 2 for 4.
|WP: Burse, Veronica (1-0); LP: Willard, Shelby (0-1); Duration: 2:15|
In the second game FAMU was recognized as the home team. The Ohio Valley Conference Belmont Bruins served as the visiting team. Aggressive play by the Bruins help them establish a lead in the top of the 4th inning. The Rattlers answered in the bottom of the 4th inning with a 2 run home run by first baseman Toni Anderson and a single to left field by center fielder Kieffi Myrick that scored designated player Tahlia Snider.
The Bruins again took a 4-3 lead in the 6th inning and maintained it through the top of the 7th and final inning. The Rattlers needed one run to tie the game. Without a tying run the game would end and the Rattlers would lose. Probably the smallest player on the Rattler team and perhaps one of the more tenacious, outfielder Tashayla Irvis scored on a hit by Jessica Nathan and an error by the Bruins left fielder. In dramatic fashion right fielder Alexis Day then hit a single toward the first base line where she was tagged out by the Bruins’ first baseman. The first basemen followed up with a throw to the home plate, but not in time as Jessica Nathan beat the throw to score the game winner. It was the second time in the day that Nathan helped produce the winning run as the Rattlers took the game by a score of 5-4.
Designated player Tahlia Snider hit the only double of the game. First baseman Toni Anderson hit the only home run and her sister, catcher Denise Anderson recorded a sacrifice fly. FAMU recorded only 5 hits on 25 tries with 5 runs batted in and 2 errors. Sophomore Veronica Burse pitched all seven innings taking the win for the Rattlers.
The Rattler Softball team will continue play in the Sand Dollar Classic facing Lipscomb University at 4:00 PM EST and Jackson State University at 7:00 PM EST. They will play a final game on Sunday against Houston Baptist University at 10:00 AM EST.