By Alex Hyman, Staff Writer
The defending Colonial Athletic Association champion Hofstra Pride softball team began its season last weekend with four wins over St. Johns University, UNC Greensboro and Florida State University, winning the Seminole Kickoff Classic.
Hofstra head coach Bill Edwards said that his team "trained harder as a team" during the offseason. He said the team conditioned well and spent more time in the weight room than ever this offseason.
The Pride started its season with a 16-0 win over UNC Greensboro with sophomore Olivia Galati pitching a complete game shutout, not surrendering a hit. It was her third career no-hitter. Eight out of nine starters for the Pride had at least one RBI, with senior catcher Laura Valentino knocking in four.
"We didn't miss a beat, it's like we got off the plane from Arizona and kept playing" Edwards said.
The second game of the tournament for the Pride was against St. Johns. The Pride's number two starter Erin Wade performed brilliantly, not allowing a hit until the third inning. It was Galati, this time with the bat, that gave the Pride the lead in the top of the fourth inning. Sophomore Tessa Ziemba then knocked in Galati as the Pride never looked back, defeating St. Johns 4-1.
No. 23 Florida State would be the highest ranked match-up for the Pride as the Seminoles were sending one of the countries greatest pitchers in Sarah Hamilton to the rubber. Olivia Galati was taking the mound for the Pride for the second straight day.
Hofstra loaded the bases in the second, got two runners on in the third and two runners on in the fifth but could not get a run home. After surrendering a first inning home run to the number three hitter for Florida State, Galati bounced back to retire 12 Seminoles in a row. Trouble struck in the sixth inning when the Seminoles were able to get one more against Galati. Senior relief pitcher Sarah Michalowski came on for Galati and gave up three more runs and the Pride fell behind 5-0 after six innings. In the seventh, Trisha Dreslinski hit a solo homer to end the shut out, but it was not enough as the Pride fell to the Seminoles 5-1.
"It came down to getting the big hit," Edwards said.
Hofstra jumped to a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning and put up a seven spot in the sixth to beat St. Johns 9-0 in the first elimination round of the tournament.
In the Championship game, the Pride faced a rematch with the only team that had beaten them, Florida State. With the score tied in the fourth, Valentino belted a two-run homerun to give the Pride a 2-0 lead. That would be all Galati needed as she would go on to pitch a 2-hit shutout, her second shutout of the tournament.
The Pride did not make one error in the five games. "Pitching and defense wins championships," Edwards said.