It has not been easy. Nobody thought it would.
When the 2017 schedule was released for the Hofstra Pride baseball team, we all knew the competition would be challenging.
They sit at 2-5 to begin the season – which is nowhere close to where head coach John Russo wants to be.
However, this is a PSA saying that despite their rocky start to the season, the Pride can take away some positives from opening weekend, hence why two wins were quickly strung together.
Sure, wins are better than losses. But the few losses Hofstra suffered to open up their fresh campaign does not do the team justice for how well they have truly played.
From what we have seen, they will continue to compete throughout the spring.
This was a matter of how this team can compete head-to-head with some of the nation’s best. They did. Some games ended ugly, others ended in frustration.
Either way, Russo and his team played tough.
On opening day, Hofstra’s ace John Rooney displayed guts, guile and character in an outing that lasted almost six innings. He showed the fight his team needs if they want success this season.
After surrendering a leadoff homerun, Rooney set down the next seven batters before things got hairy.
Down 2-0, Hofstra’s ace struck out three of the next six hitters to keep the Pride in the game, giving Hofstra the chance to win.
That is what their starting pitchers need to do this year.
But by the time the bats arrived from their preseason slumber, Murray State already had a strong grip on the game.
Hofstra got routed in their second game of the season, which only lasted seven frames. The box score read 11-1 after seven, but fans may not know Chris Weiss allowed three hits and one run in the first four innings before things unraveled.
It was the type of outing that gives a lineup the chance to get back into a game.
You have to remember: there is only so much a pitcher can do before the opponent wakes up from its rest.
It did not matter how strong Weiss started or how much he struggled at the end; the Pride was held hitless for the opening five innings.
In a New York minute, things changed.
The bats came alive. And behind a stellar outing from Rooney in the opening game of the Mardi Gras Invitational, Hofstra registered its first win of the season – a 10-3 victory over Nicholls State.
Another takeaway Russo can hang his cap on is his offseason prediction of a productive Nick Bottari in the everyday lineup.
Through seven games, Bottari sports a .320 batting average, leads the ball club in doubles (3), runs batted in (6) and slugging percentage (.560).
After Ryan Karl graduated from the program last season, there was a giant question mark at the first base position.
Bottari was redshirted in 2015 and was limited to just 36 of Hofstra’s 52 games last year due to injury, but scrapped six homeruns in that shorter span.
Make no mistake – Hofstra baseball has a long road ahead before they can be considered at the top of the CAA.
Their bullpen – aside from standout transfer Jorge Marrero (0.00 ERA in 9.1 innings), Andrew Mundy (0.00 ERA in six innings) and Teddy Cillis (2.00 ERA in nine innings) – gives major cause for concern moving forward.
But from what we have seen through seven games, the Pride will be an entertaining bunch to watch come springtime.