UL Softball Preview: Hofstra
The 22nd-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajun softball team will take on the Hofstra Pride on Saturday, in their third game in the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Florida.
The Louisiana/Hofstra match-up is scheduled for Saturday at 1:30 pm (cdt).
Hofstra, members of the Colonial Athletic Association, will will playing their first games of the year with play this weekend.
The Pride returns five starters from a team that went 46-13 in 2013, but lost All-American Olivia Galati, who went 40-12 with a 1.42 ERA. in the circle, while also hitting a .284 at the plate.
Hofstra does return sophomore outfielder Caryn Bailey, who led the Pride with a .360 average, while hitting nine home runs and driving in 43 runs as a freshman.
The top returning power threat is senior infielder Becca Bigler, who hit 12 homers last season, while driving in 41 runs.
Last season, Hofstra hit 56 home runs, but lost Tessa Ziemba, who belted 14 last year, so it may be hard to reach that number again, but they will win a few games with the long ball.
The Pride only stole 34 bases last year, so they pick and choose their spots to run, but they are a smart base running program, who seldom runs themselves out of a potential big inning.
Defensively, Hofstra was outstanding last year, committing only 41 errors. Of course, it helped to have a strikeout artist like Galati, who fanned 395 hitters. It's hard to make errors when the opposition fails to make contact.
The big question for the Pride will be the pitching. Galati pitched a staggering 341.1 of the 381.1 innings on the team a season ago, and you just don't replace a pitcher of her caliber.
Hofstra is no longer just a good team, they're a good program, and they should have another credible season in 2014, even without Galati.
Of course, they do have to find pitchers that can make up at least some of those innings that Galati gave them, and this tournament will mark their first games of the year, so they come in a little behind most of the teams in the tournament.
That being said, the Pride has enough returning talent to beat anybody that they play in the tournament as well.
Last year, the Cajuns defeated Hofstra, 4-2, in the NFCA Leadoff Classic, as UL capped off a 4-1 tournament.
Louisiana will play twice on Friday, against Illinois St. at 11 am, and against James Madison at 1:30 pm.
The Cajuns will play twice more on Saturday, taking on Hofstra at 1:30 pm, and USF at 4 pm.
UL wraps-up play in the tournament on Sunday at 10 am, when they face Rutgers.
You can hear all the play-by-play action on Sports Radio ESPN 1420, and espn1420.com, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to first-pitch for each game.