2023 Delaware vs Hofstra

CAA Softball Matchups Of The Week: Can Delaware Lock Up No. 1 Seed?

CAA Softball Matchups Of The Week: Can Delaware Lock Up No. 1 Seed?

Several programs having clinched slots in the eight-team CAA Championship, but there’s still going to be a fight for the spots that remain.

Apr 26, 2023 by Briar Napier
CAA Softball Matchups Of The Week: Can Delaware Lock Up No. 1 Seed?

It’s put up or shut up time in the Colonial Athletic Association softball season, y’all.

With several programs having clinched slots in the eight-team CAA Championship – being broadcast on FloSoftball from May 9-13 – there’s still going to be a fight for the spots that remain.

The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, so the stakes are high.

Theoretically, even with less than two weeks to go in the regular season, every team in the league is in for certain or has a chance to fight its way in. 

That means the cliché of “every game matters” will be taking the final two regular-season series into overdrive. One play could make or break an entire season, filled with long travel treks, hours in the cage and days upon days of honing crafts.

The squads that already know they’re going to be in the field for the conference tournament can’t rest much, either, as there are spoils waiting for the highest seeds in the field, giving those who earn prime position a better likelihood to push through and seal a spot at an NCAA Regional in front of electric crowds in hallowed venues.

If you’re not yet having fun watching the best in CAA softball go at it, you soon will.

Here’s a look at the matchups to watch across the CAA schedule this week, with many games throughout the conference schedule being streamed live on FloSoftball.

Delaware Vs. Hofstra

The objective is clear this weekend for both the Blue Hens and the Pride. 

With both teams having already sealed spots in the CAA Championship, seeding and the regular-season title are the most important things to fight for now – especially considering that the top two seeds in the conference tournament get an all-important double-bye. 

And, it just so happens that Delaware and Hofstra hold the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the CAA standings, respectively. 

Importantly, however, the Blue Hens have the leverage on the rest of the league. 

UD (at 14-4 in CAA play after winning its series against Towson over the weekend) holds a two-game lead on Hofstra and UNCW – with Elon also lurking at 11-6.

With six conference games remaining, meaning if coach Jen Steele’s team wins the upcoming series against the Pride, it’ll at worst control its own destiny with a one-game lead going into its final regular-season series next weekend against last-placed Hampton. 

Such a result would swing the odds well in the Blue Hens favor.

Since dropping their opening CAA series in March to Charleston, Delaware has gone 12-2 in the league with sweeps of UNCW, Monmouth and Stony Brook. 

Hofstra’s job is to try and prevent that. If it does, the rest of the regular-season title chasers will be thankful. 

The Pride won a critical series over the weekend against Elon to make their move toward the top.

It came right before they get a shot at the current crown-holders, having won six of their past seven games at just the right time. 

Hofstra winning the series against UD (and especially a sweep) would put the pressure on the Blue Hens to show up for the final weekend of league play, especially since the Pride also play a program near the bottom of the standings (Drexel) three times before the CAA postseason begins. 

Each inning this weekend on Long Island will be a dogfight, and every major play will have huge implications for the regular-season championship hunt. 

Charleston Vs. Elon

Though both the Phoenix and Cougars look to be in position to make it to the CAA Championship, neither program (sitting at 11-6 and 9-9 in the league, respectively) officially has clinched a spot. 

Thus, if there’s domination from either dugout this weekend, it could throw a wrench into the losing team’s postseason hopes and plans. 

Both programs are coming off rather underwhelming weekends, too. 

Elon, needing a big series against Hofstra to keep pace with Delaware, dropped its final two games, after capturing Game 1 against the Pride.

Charleston was swept by North Carolina A&T, as chances to pick up extra wins here and there (failing to sweep Monmouth or Drexel, being swept by Towson, etc.) have fallen by the wayside and been a serious problem for the Cougars all season. 

Charleston is more in the danger zone in terms of the CAA tourney right now than Elon.

After the Phoenix, top-2 threat UNCW awaits the Cougars in the final regular-season series – but the Phoenix cannot afford to take CofC lightly at all, especially considering its ability to shine, as was evidenced by being the only CAA team to win a series over Delaware this season.

Charleston has one of the CAA’s best pitching staffs, a unit that has a 2.60 team ERA in conference play, to go along with 104 strikeouts, to join UNCW as the only pitching staffs in the CAA this year to have sub-3.00 ERAs and triple-digit strikeouts against league foes. 

But Elon’s Claudia Penny (24 RBIs in CAA play) and Kaitlyn Wells (19) are about as dynamic of a duo on offense as it gets and should give the Charleston rotation a challenge, even while the Cougars’ superb freshman hurler Caroline Conner – who has been red-hot against CAA opponents with a 1.80 ERA, 57 strikeouts and a pair of shutouts in 58 1/3 innings – continues to evolve into a superstar.

North Carolina A&T Vs. Hampton

A&T and Hampton’s meeting this weekend is hugely important for two main reasons. 

First, any series of games that sees two historically Black colleges and universities duke it out always brings history, camaraderie and plenty of longstanding rivalries, though this meeting between the Aggies and Pirates is of particular significance – it will be the softball teams’ first meeting against each other as CAA members, with both having left the Big South Conference to join the league during the offseason. 

Secondly, there are a lot of postseason implications, too. 

Hampton is 3-14 in CAA play and needs something miraculous in order to catch Monmouth (8-13 league record), which is the conference’s No. 8 team right now.

This weekend might be Hampton’s final chance of the season to make some headway, with a visit to top-ranked Delaware on the docket for the final series of the regular season. 

Plus, regardless of whether a late surge into the top 8 works out or not, plucking some victories off of a rival would be a sweet feeling. 

The Aggies, meanwhile, can’t afford to drop many games, especially after the surge of momentum they just got from the program’s first CAA sweep, which came against Charleston over the weekend. 

The series win rocketed the Aggies into seventh place in the standings, three CAA games ahead of the drop zone. 

Another sweep would all but seal the deal for A&T getting to the postseason, and after the week CAA Co-Pitcher of the Week Kayla Douglas had (2-0, 8 1/3 innings of relief without allowing an earned run), the Aggies have plenty of momentum as they push for a CAA Championship berth in their first year in the conference. 

It also wouldn’t be too bad of an ending to a season in a new league, a year that looked doomed when A&T opened the campaign at 1-10, including five shutout losses.