By Kennedy Guidry
Baseball season is quickly approaching, and the Florida A&M Rattlers are striving to make it a championship winning season.
Last season the team ended with a 15-9 record in the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference and a 25-30 record overall. This year the team hopes a MEAC Championship ring is in their future.
“Last season, we fell short of winning the conference. This year with lots of focus and determination we look forward to being crowned king,” said Jelani Wheeler, sophomore catcher.
The Rattlers, with their 25-30 record, clinched the No. 4 spot in the MEAC. They finished with a .455 pct, which is lower than the 2017 and 2016 pct.
“As a team it’s easy to say that we all want to win the MEAC Championship, which we fell short of last year, but I think that I can honestly say that as a team we want more. We want the College World Series,” said Senior Pitcher Chandellor Benton.
The team has been working hard with workouts and practices every day and are pushing themselves more than ever on and off the field.
In order to mentally and physically prepare for the season, Wheeler has made a commitment to limit his social activities on the weekends.
“On the field, I’m making sure I take all practices seriously. Off the field, eating well, resting, and working out are priorities.”
“We are working and lifting harder this season,” said Senior Center Fielder Willis McDaniel. “I try to wake up early every morning to start my day.”
Players are not only pushing themselves, but are also working to make sure their teammates are challenging themselves as well.
“I’m challenging myself and my teammates to have self-discipline,” said McDaniel.
The Rattlers have also acquired a new strength and conditioning coach this past fall.
“Hayley has brought a great change to the program and has been pushing us to get better all pre-season. As a team we are benefitting greatly and we are seeing the results on the field.” said Benton.
Wheeler adds that in addition to having a successful season on the field, he is also looking forward to having fun and making memories with his teammates.
“I’m looking forward to getting to play on the field every day with this group of guys we got this year. There’s a good atmosphere on the field every day full of guys just ready to get after it,” said Benton.
After graduation, seniors McDaniel and Benton both hope to pursue a career in baseball.
“I plan on being on a major league roster,” McDaniel said.
Benton stated, “After graduating I plan to continue following a baseball career, all things permitting, but if things do not go the way I would like, I have plans to continue school and follow a degree in physical therapy.”
This season starts off in New Orleans, with the Andre Dawson Classic on Feb. 15-17. The home opener will be Tuesday Feb. 19 against the University of Missouri.