The Hofstra Pride softball team came into Saturday’s doubleheader against the Drexel Dragons looking to extend its 13-game winning streak, stay undefeated in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and prove that they deserved to be the No. 25 team in the nation.
On Saturday afternoon at Bill Edwards Stadium in Hempstead, the Pride (33-8, 14-0 CAA) did just that, as they picked up 9-0 and 11-2 victories, both in just five innings, over Drexel (17-21-2, 3-11 CAA) to extend their winning streak to 15 games.
Hofstra’s first victory of the day came courtesy of a dominating performance from staff ace Sarah Cornell and five home runs, two of which came off the bat of Nikki Michalowski.
The five home runs tied a program record for the most round trippers mashed in a single game. The current Pride team now has 53 home runs this year, the third-most all-time in program history.
“We were seeing the ball really well at the plate,” said Hofstra head coach Larissa Anderson.
In the circle, Cornell yielded just one hit and struck out six in five innings en route to her 20th win of the season.
Anderson said moving the ball around the strike zone and pinpoint command of her pitches were key to Cornell’s success.
Anderson said Cornell did a good job of “working both sides of the plate [and] changing eye levels.”
The Pride offense was pounding the ball from the get-go. Hofstra wasted no time putting a run on the board in Game 1. After Drexel starter Katie Haley recorded two quick outs, Pride first baseman Brittany Allocca drilled her 10th home run of the season to left field to put Hofstra ahead 1-0.
Anderson said scoring in the first inning is key to Hofstra’s success.
“[Scoring first] takes the pressure off our pitching staff, which is critical,” Anderson said. “It also sets the tone. It keeps the momentum in our dugout.”
Allocca’s long ball was a sign of things to come. The Pride provided Cornell with some breathing room in the home half of the fourth inning. Michalowski and Megan Patierno hit back-to-back solo round trippers to give Hofstra a 3-0 lead.
Hofstra added another run in the home half of the fifth. After Brielle Pietrafesa doubled, the next batter, Allocca, had her second RBI of the game with a single to center to put the Pride on top 4-0.
Michalowski broke the game open with a three-run blast with runners on the corners and two outs in the fifth inning off of Drexel reliever Devon Grippe.
Kimberly Wert went yard two batters later, giving Hofstra a 9-0 win in 5 innings.
Sophie Dandola stepped into the circle for the second game and made quick work of the Dragons in the first inning, inducing a weak groundout and recording two strikeouts to retire the side in order.
Once again, Hofstra scored promptly in Game 2. Kristin Hallam drew a four-pitch walk to lead off the contest. Pietrafesa followed that up with a double off the left field wall, allowing Hallam to score from first. Pietrafesa came around to score on a throwing error by Drexel shortstop Linda Rush.
Patierno had a chance to do more damage off Drexel starter Brooklyn Daly, but she grounded into a fielder’s choice with two runners aboard and two down.
Kaitlyne Musa hit a home run off the left field foul pole to put the Pride on top 3-0 in the top of the second inning.
Michaela Transue and Hallam followed up the long ball with a pair of singles, but Pietrafesa flied out to right field and Transue was thrown out trying to tag up and advance to third. Allocca popped out to shortstop to end the inning.
Hofstra took advantage of a pair of walks in the third inning. Patierno doubled with runners on first and second, scoring Courtney Scarpato, who had reached on a fielder’s choice. Musa followed that up with a base knock to center field, bringing home Michalowski and extending the Pride’s advantage to 5-0.
Three batters later, Pietrafesa hit a bases-clearing double to put Hofstra ahead 8-0. She came around to score when Allocca doubled to put the Pride on top 9-0.
Dandola had a solid outing in the circle, allowing two unearned runs on five hits and one walk in five innings pitched on Saturday.
Anderson said she wants to see Dandola, a freshman, be able to put batters away, especially when she is ahead in the count.
“Sometimes, it’s okay to throw a ball,” Anderson said. “Sometimes, pitchers don’t feel that they like to throw balls, but it’s okay, especially in [two-strike] situations.”
Patierno punctuated the day with a two-run shot to center field off of Daly to put the Pride ahead 11-1.
Hofstra hopes its success will continue into next weekend when they travel to James Madison University, who currently sits in second place in the CAA with a 12-2 in-conference record.