When Sarah Edwards, a Bay Shore High School graduate, decided to transfer from the University at Buffalo, she wasn’t set on returning to Long Island. But a visit to the Hofstra softball coaches’ office and a glance at a plethora of hardware made her realize where she wanted to go.
“I wasn’t really looking for a Long Island team, that’s not why I came here,” said Edwards, a first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection. “But I sat in the office with coach as a transfer and seeing all the trophies and knowing the legacy of this program, that’s why I came here in the first place.”
On May 11, Edwards — the Pride’s No. 4 batter hitting .344 with six home runs this season — helped add another trophy to the mantle as Hofstra defeated James Madison, 7-4, winning all three of its conference tournament games to claim its 12th CAA softball championship and first since 2015, securing an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Tournament.
The Pride, ranked No. 24 in the country at 40-12, will travel to ninth-seeded South Carolina in the Regionals. They’ll be joined by Liberty (47-12), North Carolina-Greensboro (46-11) and South Carolina (45-14), the host school, in a double-elimination format with the winning team advancing to the May 24-27 Super Regionals. Hofstra opens with Liberty at 5 p.m. Friday.
Hofstra also has its eyes on some revenge as South Carolina defeated the Pride, 4-2 and 11-0, at the FIU Tournament to open the season.
“I think that we’ve become so much stronger and we’re such a different team now than we were in the beginning of the year,” Edwards said. “And now being able to play them again, it’s just coming full circle for us here and we’re really excited to get the chance to beat them now.”
With a powerful lineup, including five players with at least eight home runs, led by Brittany Allocca’s 15 home runs and 52 RBIs and Brielle Pietrafesa’s 13 homers and 55 RBIs, the Pride believe they have an order that gives pitchers nowhere to rest.
“It’s scary because anybody at any time can hit the ball out of the ballpark and I don’t really have to do any managing,” said coach Larissa Anderson, in her fourth season at the helm. “We hardly ever play small ball because we know anybody at any time if they put a good swing on a good pitch, it can go a long way.”
And with a pair of Nassau County pitchers in sophomore Sarah Cornell, a Clarke graduate and the CAA Pitcher of the Year who led the conference in strikeouts (225), wins (22) and shutouts (eight), and freshman Sophie Dandola, a Seaford graduate who led the conference in saves (five) and was second in ERA (1.71), anchoring the circle, Hofstra had some of the most consistent pitching in the CAA.
Cornell couldn’t wipe the smile off her face imagining pitching in front of the large crowds after recording the final out in the CAA championship.
“We’ve played at Oregon and [James Madison University],” Cornell said. “They had some loud fans and it’s a great atmosphere for sure. I think it will just be a battle for sure.”
Hofstra, playing in its first NCAA Tournament since 2015, hopes to prove itself with a roster entirely of east coast players on a national stage.
“People come to Hofstra to play softball,” Anderson said. “They’re not coming to Hofstra because our football team is in a bowl game so really they have so much to prove because we’re good. And we want to make sure that everyone else in the country knows how good we really are.”