Dandola's perfect game keeps Pride alive in NCAA Regional Round
On the softball field, perfection is a rarity, especially in the NCAA Regional round of postseason play. There had not been a perfect game in this stage of the game for any college softball team since 2013. For the Hofstra Pride, even with their illustrious history filled with pitching riches, they had never thrown a perfect game this deep into the season.
That all changed when freshman pitcher Sophie Dandola toed the rubber in an elimination game against the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) on Saturday afternoon.
Dandola got the call from Hofstra head coach Larissa Anderson, knowing it was win or go home for her team with a spot in the semi-final round of the Columbia Regional on the line.
From the get-go, Dandola had her drop ball working seamlessly, inducing weak contact and staying ahead in the count. The Pride offense broke through in the fourth inning, plating three runs and giving the UNCG pitcher all she would need to breeze through the Spartans’ lineup. It took just 58 pitches for the Seaford, New York native to retire all 21 batters she faced.
Batter after batter, ground balls were rolled out to the left side of the infield, where sophomore Kristin Hallam and senior Megan Patierno took care of anything hit their way. Fifteen of the 21 outs recorded by Dandola were via ground balls.
The closest the Spartans came to foiling Dandola’s quest for perfection came with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Alexis Overdiep tapped a ball to third base and Patierno threw up the line at first. First baseman Brittany Allocca snagged the throw and tagged Overdiep before she reached the bag, maintaining grasp of the ball when the runner collided directly into her.
The bottom of the seventh was relatively easy for Dandola. She had to face the first three hitters in UNCG’s lineup, but she remained composed with every pitch. The first batter rolled over to third base, followed by the number two hitter sending one to shortstop for the second out.
It was up to Marisa Sholtes, who came into the game hitting .362 for the Spartans. Dandola’s first pitch was tapped right back to her in the pitcher’s circle; the bid for perfection was achieved.
The Pride mobbed Dandola in the middle of the field, knowing what their freshman had accomplished. Not only did she throw what is believed to be the first perfect game in program history at the NCAA Regionals, but she kept her team’s hopes alive.
“I just felt on, and I felt that I threw my best stuff and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the team behind me, so it’s really the team effort,” Dandola said.
Hofstra ended up winning, 6-0 to eliminate UNCG and advance to the semi-finals of the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2015.
Image courtesy of Hofstra Athletics