Adrienne Clark moves from the outfield into the rotation to help the Pride reach a new level at the NCAA tournament.
By TERRY JONES
Published June 8, 2003
GIBSONTON - Although she was in a shadow cast by two-time state player of the year Beth DiPietro at Riverview High, Adrienne Clark was recruited by Hofstra in 2001 to play Division I softball.
Because of her talent, she was recruited as a utility player by the Pride and played mostly in the outfield for the Long Island, N.Y. team last season as a freshman.
Then, because of injuries to a couple of starting pitchers, the right-hander was moved into the starting rotation. From there she began to shine, helping Hofstra win its conference and earn an at-large bid to the NCAA region tournament May 15-17 in Lincoln, Neb.
In the NCAA tournament, the Pride went 2-2 and upset top seed Nebraska 3-1. Clark earned the save in the win against the Cornhuskers, who defeated Hofstra to win the tournament two days later.
She also pitched a nine-inning 1-0 shutout against Creighton.
She did not allow a run in 142/3 innings, helping the Pride to its best showing in an NCAA tournament in school history. Her efforts earned her a spot on the All-Region team.
In her senior season at Riverview, Clark was part of the rotation that helped the Sharks win a state title. She remembers only that her statistics did not include many strikeouts, but she said the defense was so solid it made her look good.
"I didn't blow the ball past many batters in high school, because my fastball was only 56 to 58 miles per hour," she said. "I did have good movement on the ball and a great team behind me. When I was moved into the rotation at Hofstra, the coaches gave me lots of extra help, and my fastball moved up to 60 to 61 mph, and I learned more about movement and control."
Clark said her coaches helped her get her body behind her pitches.
"They started by helping me to understand how to get more leg drive into my release," she said. "From there, other good things started happening to my pitches."
Academically, she has to work hard to maintain a 2.5 GPA at Hofstra. She says most of the players have to study while the team travels, and the university often sends faculty representatives with the team to administer tests the players cannot afford to miss.
"Hofstra is a private college and has very high academic standards, so it is very hard to juggle practice, study and tournaments," Clark said. "Time management is essential for any college athlete, but what we learn with that will be very valuable later on in life. We even have to take some exam finals on the road, and that is really tough. Sometimes it is really hard to completely focus on a test when also getting ready mentally for a big game or tournament."
Before she went to college, Clark played for the Tampa Mustangs between high school seasons. She said she would like to play travel ball this summer, but she can't find a team that will accept players older than 18.
Without a team to play for this summer, she has to find other ways to stay in shape.
"Our coaches sent home a schedule and a program to use until we go back," Clark said. "To help make it easier, I work out with my friend Mandy Schuerman, who played at East Bay High and now is a starter at the University of Florida. We lift weights, run and do other exercises."