TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida A&M (23-23, 15-9 MEAC) makes its’ first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance as it travels to Gainesville to face Florida (44-16, 19-11 SEC) at McKethan Stadium on Friday, May 29. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM ET and will be televised live on the SEC Network. FAMU will be the No. 4 seed in the Gainesville Regional, while UF is the No. 1 seed after earning the No. 5 overall national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Rattlers have won six straight and are 9-1 in their last 10 games heading into the NCAA Tournament. FAMU also won 14-of-18 against the MEAC down the stretch on the way to its’ first MEAC Championship since 1994.
The first game of the Gainesville Regional will see Florida Atlantic (40-17) and South Florida (33-24-1) square-off beginning at 1:00 PM ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
In 2015, Florida A&M faced three schools that earned berths in the 2015 NCAA Tournament field of 64. The Rattlers played two No. 3 seeds – Auburn (35-24) and South Florida (33-24-1) and split two games with No. 4 seed – Mercer (35-21).
The Rattlers secured an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament by defeating Bethune-Cookman 8-2 in the Championship Game of the MEAC Tournament on May 16. FAMU and B-CU entered the tournament as the top two teams from the MEAC Southern Division. The MEAC Championship was the first for FAMU since 1994 and seventh in program history. Florida A&M went 3-0 in the tournament with wins over Savannah State (7-4), Delaware State (11-2) and Bethune-Cookman.
Florida A&M led the MEAC with a .964 fielding percentage, walks (202), second with a 4.38 team ERA and third in home runs (20). The Rattler pitching staff was also tied for the MEAC lead with 10 saves this season.
McKethan Stadium is hosting an NCAA Regional for the 13th time and for the fifth time in the last six years. Florida will be is making its’ 31st overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning the SEC Tournament Championship over Vanderbilt by a score of 7-3 on Sunday night. The Gators earned a top eight national for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.
FAMU trails Florida 1-18 in the all-time, but that first win came in the last meeting with the Gators by a score of 4-3 over then-No. 6 ranked Florida in Gainesville. Catcher Jeremy Barlow led the Rattler offense going 3-for-4 including the go-ahead two-run home run in the seventh inning, while reliever Brandon Fleming picked up the win after allowing just one run over three innings of work with two strikeouts. Kendal Weeks earned his first save of the season with a strong relief performance as he allowed just one run over the final 2 1/3 innings with two strikeouts.
The Gainesville Regional is paired up with the Tallahassee Regional as the winners of each regional site will meet for a Super Regional in a best-of-three series beginning on either Friday, June 5 or Saturday, June 6. The four schools competing in the Tallahassee Regional are Florida State (41-19), College of Charleston (43-13), Auburn (35-24) and Mercer (35-21).
Courtesy: FAMU Athletics