By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
If there was any concern over just how elite a pitcher junior Olivia Galati is, those critics were silenced after the right-hander lifted the Hofstra softball team to the Hofstra Invitational Championship this weekend. The Pride won three of four games, two from the University of Connecticut and one from Maine.
"We just love playing at home, we love our field and we love our support," said Edwards. "I thought when we came to play we played very well... I thought we had really good pitching and it was nice to see some good things come out of the weekend."
Galati set the tone early on Saturday morning in Hofstra's first game against Maine. Bats on both sides were silent as a scoreless tie went into extra innings as Galati dueled with Maine's Ashley Kelly. It was Galati, though, who stole the show.
The junior struck out 18 batters, one better than her previous career high. Galati fanned seven consecutive batters from the last two outs of the second inning to the first two outs of the fourth.
"I just said, 'Olivia, keep striking them out and we'll get a run,'" said Edwards. "She was just on fire. She had some hop to the ball and a little bit of action and it was really good to see her take control of the mound."
Hofstra had its chances to win the game, stranding eight runners on the base paths.
The Pride had its best chance to win in the bottom of the seventh, the last inning before extras.
With one out and junior Becca Bigler at third base as the winning run, junior Tessa Ziemba hit a slow roller to second base. Bigler appeared to beat the throw home, but the umpire made no signal after the play. Maine's catcher EmJ Fogel then tagged Bigler seconds after the play ended as Ziemba went to go celebrate the win wandering off first base.
The umpire ruled Bigler out and Fogel threw to first to double up Ziemba.
Galati continued to mow down Maine batters before freshman Erin Trippi gave Hofstra the win with a single to right-centerfield to score Ziemba from second.
There was no time to celebrate as senior Erin Wade took the mound a little more than an hour later to lead the Pride against UConn.
Going scoreless into the fifth inning, Hofstra, as the away team at Hofstra softball stadium, struck first only to have UConn tie it up the next half of the inning.
A pair of errors from UConn in the top of the sixth plated three Hofstra runs as the offense got the jumpstart it so desperately needed, continuing the producing into the top of the seventh plating another four runs on the way to an 8-2 win.
Maine took the Sunday opener as the Black Bears got to Wade in the third inning, scoring three runs. That was all for Wade as Galati came in for relief, pitching 3.1 innings of scoreless softball, giving the Pride a chance to come back.
Two consecutive doubles from Trippi and junior DJ Slugh had Hofstra back within one, but that was as close as it would get as Maine came away with the 3-2 victory.
Galati came right back out for the second game of the day against UConn and she continued to dominate as the Hofstra bats came alive. Galati struck out seven and allowed only two hits in a five-inning shutout as Hofstra took the finale 8-0.
"When you got Secretariat you ride it," said Edwards. " She's a horse and she's going to be throwing a lot for us down the stretch this year...when she's on fire and feeling good, she can dominate a game."
Ziemba had two RBIs with a first inning single and junior outfielder Rachael Senatore added three hits with two runs in the victory.
Hofstra improves to 5-12 on the season as it prepares to travel down to Georgia State to take on the defending CAA champions.