The New York Rise, a professional women's fastpitch softball team, won its season-opening tournament over the weekend. They came home with the Scenic City Cup championship. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

The New York Rise started their season with a bang.

Although the entire team came together for the first time on June 16 and practiced as a team only twice before their first game, the Rise exited Chattanooga, Tennessee, as champions of the Scenic City Cup — the Association of Fastpitch Professionals’ season-opening tournament — on Saturday.

The Rise defeated the Oklahoma City Spark, 9-1, in the championship game.

“We came together last Sunday and we played on Wednesday, but you would think we were together for a whole month before that,” shortstop and East Meadow native Jenna Laird said Monday morning at the Rise’s media day in Syosset.

Laird is one of several Rise players who signed shortly after their college graduations in the past month, including Alex Honnold and Laurin Krings, her teammates at the University of Missouri.

The Rise will play home games at Hofstra University, with their home opener scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in the first of a three-game series against the Florida Vibe.

“It’s been a dream of mine to play professionally,” Laird said. “When I found out there was going to be a team on Long Island five minutes away from my hometown, I was like, ‘I need to be on this team.’  ”

Infielder Sami Williams, who was the Rise’s first signee in March, enjoyed playing against the OKC Spark, for whom she played last year. The Chicago native went 1-for-4 in the title game.

“I’m still close with a lot of the girls on that team,” Williams said. “We were talking about how we were trying to not accidentally cheer for each other during the game. It feels good to know that they’re still rooting for me. You always want to win, but it’s fun to win against your old team.”

The Rise (2-2) defeated the Chattanooga Steam, 8-4, for their first win Thursday. Mariah Lopez earned the win, allowing one earned run in 4 2⁄3 innings, and Westbury native Sarah Cornell struck out four and allowed two runs in 2 1⁄3 innings.

“All weekend I was saying that I could not wait to be back on Long Island and play in front of a home crowd,” Cornell said. “I know there are so many travel teams that are going to come to the games. I know my family and friends will be there. It’s gonna be awesome.”

The Rise landed on Long Island on Sunday evening and moved into their housing at Hofstra. Pitcher Courtney Wyche is still getting used to the hustle and bustle of New York, but she’s enjoyed her short experience and gave a glowing review of her first New York bagel. Wyche grew up in Silver Springs, Maryland, and ended her five-year career at the University of Maryland last month.

“I love it. It’s definitely different,” Wyche said. “Maryland is a little calmer and Long Island’s got a lot going on. But I’m excited to get to know the area, see all the sights and definitely explore the city.”

Tickets are available for each of the Rise’s nine home games, starting at $25 on the Rise’s website (

Oyster Bay’s Harlan Friedman serves as the game day operations consultant for the Rise and plans to organize themes for certain games, including a Taylor Swift night, a Lizzo theme and a game honoring women in sports.

“We want to give everyone the greatest sports and entertainment experience that they possibly can get,” Friedman said. “Our biggest thing is bringing community together. When we have themes like Taylor Swift, where people are traveling all over the world to see her perform .  .  . between sing-alongs and giveaways, we want to bring a taste of that experience to Hofstra.”

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