In its opening two weekends of the 2010 season the Hofstra softball program has made quite a splash on a national level. Against top-level competition at two tournaments in Florida and Georgia the Pride are off to 9-1 start that has catapulted them to 25th in the latest Ultimate College Softball top 25 poll.
Hofstra's hot start featured wins over North Dakota State, North Carolina State, Michigan State, Wright State, South Florida, Virginia Tech, Kent State and Mississippi State. The only loss came to 22nd ranked Florida State. The 9-1 start matches program's best since 1994, when Hofstra finished the season ranked 20th in the nation after going 39-16 but were snubbed of an NCAA Tournament bid.
Hofstra's nine wins have featured several close games with six of its nine victories coming by one run. "The big thing is that we are playing clutch," said Hofstra softball head coach Bill Edwards of his team's 9-1 start. "We're on a roll."
A major reason for the Pride's early-season success has been the pitching of sophomore Erin Wade and freshman Olivia Galati. Wade is 4-0 with 24 strikeouts while Galati has gone 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA and 35 strikeouts in the beginning of her college softball career. "Both of our pitchers have made big pitches when they've needed to make them," said Edwards.
Galati has also shown skill with the bat hitting .364 with five runs batted in through the Pride's first 10 games. "I knew she had it in her but I didn't know she would show it this early in the season," said Edwards of Galati, who was named the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year as a senior last year at St. John's the Baptist High School in Bay Shore, Long Island. "We're ecstatic about her."
With Hofstra's fast start the Pride have already positioned themselves for a possible at-large NCAA Tournament berth should they falter in the Colonial Athletic Association like last season, which snapped the program's straight of 11 straight conference titles. Despite getting off to a 9-1 start Edwards is trying to keep his players grounded with games against Louisville and Michigan on tap next weekend.
"The team has worked very hard to this point and time and obviously that hard work has paid off," said Edwards. "We have to keep working hard and getting better everyday."