By Tyler McCord, Staff Writer
Last weekend the Hofstra Pride softball team played five games in a three-day span at the Florida Atlantic Invitational. The Pride went 4-1 with its only loss to the host, Florida Atlantic University.
"I think anytime you can go into a tournament and come out 4-1 against some pretty good competition means that we did well," said head coach Bill Edwards. "I think we are starting for conference play which is coming up here shortly and I really think we're improving some aspects of our game."
Hofstra played its first game on Friday afternoon against Middle Tennessee State. Sophomore outfielder Tessa Ziemba hit her first homerun of the year to put the Pride up 1-0 after two innings.
Middle Tennessee State responded in the third with a run, but the Pride came right back and scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, which proved to be the difference as the Pride beat the Blue Raiders, 3-2.
Junior Erin Wade pitched 5.2 innings while striking out five batters.
"I think Erin is a little behind," said Edwards. "Behind meaning she needs to go out there and throw more."
In the nightcap, Hofstra took on Michigan State University. A pitching duel and 2-2 tie was broken in the top of the ninth inning when junior second baseman Jess Hirschbulh's one-out single brought home a run.
Sophomore Olivia Galati was able to pitch a scoreless ninth inning to assist the Pride in the victory beating the Spartans, 3-2. Galati recorded 17 strikeouts in her nine innings of work and sophomore Becca Bigler had three hits.
On Saturday the Pride took the diamond against its second straight Big Ten opponent, Purdue University.
Ziemba hit her first career grand slam and second homerun of the year to break a scoreless tie. Ziemba's four RBI's and Galati's seven innings with only two runs allowed were enough to beat the Boilermakers, 7-2.
"When she [Ziemba] is hot, there's no one in the country that's any better," said Edwards. "She has tremendous power."
Later on the same day Hofstra played the hosts, Florida Atlantic University. After three innings the Owls jumped to a 7-0 lead with help from Kerri Croney's two-run triple in the second inning and two-run double in the third inning.
Wade threw six innings allowing six earned runs and struck out eight batters in a loss that dropped her to 3-3 on the season. This was Hofstra's eighth loss of the season giving the Pride a record of 9-8.
"Erin is struggling but she is going to find it," said Edwards. "She's going to have a dominant year the way she did last year."
Hofstra's final game in Boca Raton was played against in-state opponent Buffalo. Hofstra opened up the game with RBI's from sophomore outfielder Rachel Senatore and Ziemba.
The Pride scored four more runs in the sixth. Galati earned fifth win of the season pitching seven innings and giving up no runs, while the Pride beat the Bulls 6-0.
Hofstra (10-8) will play in the Hyatt Place Invitational at Hofstra Softball Stadium this weekend from March 19-20. It will be the first time the Pride is at home this season, hosting Columbia and UConn.
"We'll be able to settle into a routine and our rooms and come to the ballpark and play," said Edwards. "It'll be a bit more comforting for us."