Hosftra make national splash
Blaine Ohigashi/Hofstra Athletic Communications
Hofstra advanced to the N.C.A.A. super regionals by defeating San Diego State, 2-1, last Sunday.
By SETH BERKMAN
Published: May 24 2012Since the first Women’s College World Series in 1982, every N.C.A.A. Division I softball champion has been a large public university, a team from a warm climate or both.
Hofstra, which defeated San Diego State and 11-time champion U.C.L.A. last week to reach its first super regional, fits into neither category.
With 16 teams left in the 2012 N.C.A.A. tournament, Hofstra, with an undergraduate enrollment of 7,183, is the only private university left and the last remaining team from the Northeast.
Led by Bill Edwards, a Hall of Fame coach, and pitcher Olivia Galati, Hofstra has become college softball’s postseason Cinderella story. The Pride open a best-of-three series Friday against the University of South Florida in Tampa, with a berth in the College World Series at stake.
“I’m so proud that we can represent the midmajors, like George Mason and V.C.U. in basketball,” Edwards said. “You go to the West Coast and they believe without a doubt the East Coast cannot play softball. We get very little respect from other parts of the country.”
In the New York area, the Pride have long been recognized as a softball powerhouse. Under Edwards, Hofstra has won either a regular-season or conference tournament title in each of the past 21 seasons.
“Bill is regarded as a guru of softball, he’s one of the legends of the sport,” St. John’s Coach Amy Kvilhaug said. “I’m happy he’s getting this opportunity. It doesn’t often happen for teams coming out of this side of the country.”
Other regions are slowly beginning to recognize Hofstra’s talent level. Edwards said universities from the South and West Coast often agree to schedule the Pride, but only early in the season.
Hofstra, unlike warm-weather universities, practices indoors most of the off-season. Edwards said as a result it usually takes his team a month or so to hit its stride, evident by its 0-9 start this season. Hofstra now has a 41-13 record and is on a 20-game winning streak.
A key to Hofstra’s success has been Galati, a junior pitcher who leads the N.C.A.A. in earned run average (0.91) and shutouts (17). Galati is two wins shy of tying the Division I record for consecutive victories at 33.
“With Olivia, you only need your fielders to get nine or 10 outs,” Edwards said. “Olivia’s the big story and it’s well deserved, but we have production in our lineup from one through nine and everyone has won a game, made a big play.”
When building a team, Edwards and his staff will not recruit players from softball hotbeds like Texas and California.
“Our philosophy is to get to the World Series with all Northeast or mid-Atlantic kids,” he said. “We make sure every kid that comes in on recruiting visits watches us train. This team has incredible old-school work ethic. Kids eliminate themselves when they see what it takes to be a Hofstra softball player.
“To quote Herb Brooks from ‘Miracle,’ ‘I don’t want the best players, I want the right players.’ ”
Edwards has received congratulatory text messages and calls throughout the week from coaches from other midmajor universities. He compares his team to Hickory High School from the movie “Hoosiers.”
“I think that other people view us as underdogs, but in our eyes we’re not,” Galati said. “We don’t have the school population or the media coverage, but there are other small schools out there that work just as hard that may miss it by one small play and for us to break through, it’s nice to see that it can happen and shows it is possible.”
For seniors like catcher Courtney Crews, this season has been the fulfillment of a dream, although it has come at the expense of other significant events. Last Sunday, as Hofstra was playing San Diego State in the regional final, the rest of the senior class was graduating in Hempstead. Monday morning, Stuart Rabinowitz, Hofstra’s president, held a private graduation for the five seniors who missed the previous day’s ceremonies.
“It was really cool, a nice surprise,” Crews said. “As bad as this might sound, we would’ve rather been on the softball field on Sunday though, accomplishing something we were never able to do before. That was the perfect place to be.”
*do you think that it's possible to have a winning season when you had a ruff start explain what you think.
Do you think that they will be successful next year explain, give details from article .
Does the writer use good information about the team or bad, give examples from the article.