Softball looks to build off of historic 2018 season in 2019
The Hofstra Pride softball team is coming off a historic 2018 season. The Pride finished with 41 wins, tying for the fifth-most wins in program history, while also capturing their 12th Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) title by knocking down the two-time, back-to-back defending champs, James Madison.
In that run, Hofstra returned to the national polls for the first time since 2013 and ranked as high as No. 19 in the RPI. However, their season came to a heartbreaking end in South Carolina at the NCAA Regional semifinal.
In the days that followed, it was announced that head coach Larissa Anderson had resigned to become the head coach for University of Missouri’s softball program.
Hofstra then announced the hiring of National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jay Miller.
Miller’s storied career consists of over 1,000 wins as well as experience at the international level – he has served on the USA Softball National team staff since 1997.
Miller has found it easy to get used to his new home thus far. “They are a good group, they have a good work ethic, they work hard and they get along. They bought in right away [to] what we are trying to do, so I think it was an easy adjustment,” Miller said.
Hofstra graduated seven seniors from last season – all of whom were in the starting lineup.
The same amount of players are returning, however. The two returning starters for the Pride are senior outfielder Courtney Scarpato and junior shortstop Kristin Hallam.
Scarpato hit .299, belting a career-high eight homeruns and driving in 36 RBI. Hallam posted her second consecutive .300 season and tied for the team lead with 63 hits. In addition, Hallam recorded a .966 fielding percentage as she anchored a Pride defense that was sixth-best in the nation.
Both admitted it was a difficult change, but are now settling in with their new head coach.
“It was a tough adjustment, we were under a different coach for so long ... I think we are getting in a groove now. We are understanding what our players can do and what our coach expects of us. It is getting a little easier, day by day,” Hallam said. “It was a difficult transition, but it is definitely easier now, especially with the freshmen settling in as well,” Scarpato said.
The Pride welcome in 11 freshmen this season and Miller sees a lot of room for growth and potential with his young group.
“They have a lot to learn; that’s the biggest thing right now. You want them to grow up faster than they do sometimes, but we have a lot of talent in that group and we are going to expect a lot out of them,” Miller said.
The Pride was picked to finish tied for fourth in the CAA, but Hofstra does not hold a lot of stock in pre-season rankings.
“I say don’t count us out; we have a lot of young kids, but we can win and we will win,” Scarpato said. “We have a lot of talent and I think once we get rolling and we start to gel, we are going to win,” Hallam said.
In Miller’s first season, he made his goals clear. “My expectation is that we win; I don’t think it is any different than any other season, so I expect that we will go out and compete and win ball games.”
Hofstra kicks off their title defense on Friday,Feb. 15, against the University of Kentucky at the Clearwater Invitational.