Hempstead, N.Y. – The Hofstra Softball program will look to defend its Colonial Athletic Association championship title starting on Wednesday in the first day of the conference tournament at 3 p.m. against the College of Charleston from Veterans Memorial Park on James Madison’s campus.
Both third-seeded Hofstra and second-place CofC enter the CAA Championship with 10-game winning streaks. Hofstra, which has won the last two CAA crowns, is 32-11 and finished 11-4 against the league while the Cougars are 40-14 and ended 14-4 against the league.
Free live audio for all of Hofstra’s tournament cans can be heard via PRIDE ZONE. There will also be a free live video stream on CAA.TV and the CAA’s iPad app. A free login will be required to view the games. Top-seeded JMU will host fourth-place Towson in the other first-day contest on Wednesday at noon.
Hofstra will be on the road for the CAA Tournament for just the second time since joining the league in 2002. The Pride will be looking for a good omen as the squad won the championship in 2006 at Georgia State.
Four consecutive shutout victories has Hofstra entering the week with momentum. Junior Morgan Lashley blanked Drexel twice, including a five-inning no-hitter on Saturday that marked Hofstra’s first no-no since Olivia Galati accomplished the feat in the 2013 CAA Tournament. Lashley is 17-4 with 1.76 ERA and a team-leading 146 strikeouts.
Fellow junior Taylor Pirone has been equally dominant recently, blanking LIU Brooklyn on April 24 before shutting down Drexel for a two-hit shutout on Saturday. Pirone has set a career high in victories with a 15-5 record and her 1.44 ERA trails only JMU’s Jailyn Ford for the league lead.
Sophomores Chloe Fitzgerald, Maggie Hawkins and Kim Smith comprise three of Hofstra’s four starters who are hitting better than .340 (senior shortstop Becca Bigler is also on that list) as Hofstra holds a .315-.212 batting average differential. The Pride’s offense has scored 244 runs compared to just 84 for opponents. While Pirone and Lashley have combined for 10 shutouts, Hofstra has hit 11 more home runs than the opposition (31-to-20) led by Hawkins’ team-leading nine long balls.
Junior catcher Erin Trippi, who has caught every pitch this season, has provided power as well with a career-high seven home runs while hitting .309 with a .545 slugging percentage.
Besides the power potential, Hofstra has created havoc on the basepaths, led by Fitzgerald 18-for-18 stolen base mark and senior outfielder Rachael Senatore’s 15-16 showing. Smith is also 10-for-11 as Hofstra has swiped 56 bases out of 61 total attempts. Conversely, Trippi has thrown out nine would-be base-stealers with opponents notching just seven stolen bases against the Pride all season.
CofC reached 40 wins for the fourth time in program history and the first since the 2005 squad qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Senior Lizzy Vaughn is leading the Cougars with a .372 average in starting all 54 games, compiling a team-leading 30 RBIS.
Kelsey Hodgson is CofC’s main power threat with eight home runs, which is five more than the next-closest teammate in Rebecca Mueller. Against Towson in the final regular season series, Hodgson went deep for her program record-tying 42nd career home run.
CofC is 32-2 when out-hitting opponents thanks to a pitching staff anchored by Hope Klicker (20-10, 2.47 ERA) and Samantha Martin (13-3, 1.64 ERA). Hofstra defeated both starters using seventh-inning comebacks in the regular season as the Pride took two-of-three from the Cougars.