By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
The Pride is indeed beginning to roll and it's catalyst is junior pitcher Olivia Galati.
Long Island University (LIU) was the Hofstra softball team's (10-12) latest victim on Wednesday afternoon-- though it took a few extra innings to decide things.
"It was a very interesting game," said head coach Bill Edwards. "
It was another Galati-like performance for the right hander, confusing and overwhelming opponents with a mixture of dead heat and off-speed pitches.
"She was throwing her change ups very effectively and kept them down in the zone," said Edwards. "She's been on it. She's been throwing the ball real well."
"When you have command of three or four pitches, you're going to have a pretty good outing."
Galati struck out 14 with a stretch of six batters in a row, but the Hofstra offense could only provide her minimal support.
After LIU changed pitchers in the fourth inning, a Tessa Ziemba triple brought home Erin Trippi and a sacrifice fly from senior Courtney Crews drove home Ziemba for the Hofstra 2-0 lead.
It seemed that would be enough as Galati was on her game and LIU was searching for answers.
"LIU is a very good hitting team," said Edwards. "For her to do what she did against LIU is certainly a credit to her. She threw very well today, had command of all her pitches."
Hofstra had chances to extend its lead, but left the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
"Timely hitting is a part of offensive execution," said Edwards. "I thought we had some pretty good at bats during those situations but a lot of times we hit balls right at people."
LIU managed to get to Galati. Three hits and an error from Becca Bigler at shortstop knotted the game up at two.
"They sat on two change ups that were left a little bit up in the zone," said Edwards. "They were able to get the two key hits that they needed and Becca got handcuffed on the play that tied it up and that was a tough play for her."
Giving up the lead did not shake Hofstra's confidence, especially Galati as she continued to dispose of LIU batters with ease in the eighth and ninth inning.
Hofstra found a winner in the ninth after senior Michelle Lavagnino led off the inning with a single, stole second and advanced on a wild pitch.
Of all people, it was Galati to come up and send the fans home with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Hofstra started the week by sweeping Colonial Athletic Association opponent Georgia State, a team that defeated the Pride in the conference championships last year.
After an 8-6 victory in the first game of the series, Galati pitched a shutout the second game of the series as the Pride bats came alive, smacking Georgia State 16-0 in five innings.
Hofstra hit four home runs in the second game as the middle of the Pride's order, featuring freshman Erin Trippi, Bigler, Crews and Ziemba churned out some power.
"When you have the middle of the order hitting, it helps out the rest of the line-up," said Edwards. "They had quality at bats which really helped us."
Galati came right back out the next day and led the Pride 4-1 win with nine strikeouts.
Edwards gave senior Erin Wade a start after the Hofstra's sweep of Georgia State when the Pride hosted Iona on Tuesday afternoon.
Wade was dealing while the offense, led by Bigler's sixth home run of the season and Ziemba's 3-4 effort, gave its pitcher a 7-1 cushion entering the seventh inning.
"All I can tell you is that I wouldn't want to pitch to [Bigler]," said Edwards. "She hits the ball so hard. She hit a foul ball today that went through the McDonald's drive through and ordered some fries. She's dangerous and she's dangerous against everybody in the country."
Iona got to Wade when the Gaels rocked the senior for five runs including a grand slam from Jodi Peterson, cutting the Hofstra lead to just one.
Edwards called in his ace, and Galati saved the game.
Hofstra is next in action Saturday when it hosts Drexel at noon.