The pain was exruciating and it caused Hofmann to bend over and cringe. But as coach Ann Marie Rich trotted to the circle, the pitcher managed to grit something through her clenched teeth."I'm not coming out," Hofmann hissed.It was late in the 2007 season, after all. The Terriers were jockeying for playoff position against their division rivals, trying to win their second straight CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title. Hofmann didn't come out. Instead she tossed a complete-game shutout."I think she threw harder in that game than she ever has," said Hofmann's mother, Heather.That situation best describes Hofmann: if she wants to do something, you can't change her mind. And that's fine with Rich, who calls the Dowling College-bound senior one of the most driven players she's coached in 21 years at Prep."She's so centered, so focused," Rich said. "Every pitch, every at-bat, she takes it to heart and I mean that in a good way. She's a very driven girl."Hofmann, a Glendale native, grew up with baseball. She started playing with a plastic bat and nerf ball with her father, Rob, when she was 2 years old. When Hofmann was 9, she learned how to pitch. She played Little-League softball with RGMVM, then travel ball with the BP All-Stars on Long Island before her parents formed their own travel team, the Lady Bulldogs."I'm a baseball fanatic," Rob Hofmann said. "I've always believed to start early...It's a game that teaches you a lot about life."The effort has earned his daughter a scholarship to one of the best Division II softball programs in the area. Hofmann, who played over the summer with the Staten Island Panthers, an elite New York City's travel team, throws a nasty curve, a rise, a changeup and a drop. She rarely uses a regular fastball, more inclined to keep the opposition guessing.That's also where the neon green shoelaces come in. Hofmann said she saw them at a store last year and thought: 'Wow, those are me.' Clearly, she harbors the quirks of a ball player, too."I just had to put them on," she said. "I try to make myself stand out a little bit."She does that plenty with her pitching. Two weeks ago, Hofmann struck out 15 batters in five innings against Christ the King to set a St. Francis Prep record for strikeouts in a game.She never did reach her goal last season, though. Prep lost in the Brooklyn/Queens championship series to rival Molloy. Hofmann hopes this year is different."That's what she wants," Heather Hofmann said of the title.Don't tell her she can't do it.Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimond@t
©2008 Community News Group
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