Hofstra softball glad to hit the road for NCAAs

After hosting NCAA Tournament regionals from 2006-2008 the Hofstra softball team will be hitting the road in the post season for the first time in five years and that suits head coach Bill Edwards just fine. After winning the Colonial Athletic Association and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAAs (Hofstra (43-10) was slotted to play in the Tucson, Ariz. region starting against Oklahoma State (43-14) on Friday.

“I would much rather be on the road,” said Edwards whose teams reached the regional finals in 2004 and 2005 at Stanford and Alabama but did not fare as well the next three years when the NCAAs were held on its home field. “Whenever we hosted we played some of our poorest ball.”

Hofstra is no longer eligible to host the regionals because of a new NCAA rule requiring lights. Edwards said playing on the road has its advantages in terms of having less distractions and allowing the coaches to keep better track of the players’ schedules. Edwards, who has led the Pride to the NCAAs 10 times in the last 12 years, is also excited for the opportunity to play at the University of Arizona’s Hillenbrand Stadium in a big time college softball atmosphere.

“We are going to the Yankee Stadium of college softball,” said Edwards. “It is a tremendous opportunity for our program.”

The Tucson region also includes third ranked Arizona and Ivy League champion Cornell. If Hofstra is to advance in the double elimination tournament into the super regionals it will likely have to go through Arizona, the 10th seed in the 64-team field and a longtime Pac 10 power, which defeated the Pride twice to capture the Hempstead regional in 2008.

Hofstra’s strength this season has been its pitching and defense led by freshman ace Olivia Galati, who enters the NCAAs at 24-6 with 280 strikeouts and only 33 walks. Hofstra is also tied with East Carolina for first in the nation in fielding percentage at 0.981.

“I think we match up well with the other teams,” said Edwards. “We just have to take it one game at a time.”

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