Hofstra To Start Super Regionals On Friday Versus No. 19 South Florida
Hempstead, N.Y. - The Hofstra softball team will look to build on its historic season when the Pride heads to Tampa, Fla. to face No. 19 University of South Florida in a best-of-three Super Regional starting with Game 1 on Friday at 7 p.m. from USF Softball Stadium.
Hofstra (41-13) enters its first-ever appearance in a Super Regional with a 20-game winning streak and victories in 39 of the last 41 games. The Pride will oppose a talented USF (45-11) squad that knocked off the fifth-overall seed Florida Gators in the regionals. Game 2 is set for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. with the elimination game, if necessary, following at 5 p.m. The winner of the series will advance to the Women's College World Series.
All games during the Hofstra vs. South Florida Super Regional will be televised by ESPNU. The audio broadcast will also be available on WRHU (88.7 FM) and GoHofstra.com. Tickets for the NCAA Super Regional are $7 per day for adults and $5 per day for students/youth. General admission seating will be in place on Friday and Saturday on a first come, first serve basis.
The Pride, which has made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, posted its first regional win by knocking off No. 12 overall seed UCLA on its home field before defeating San Diego State University on back-to-back days at Easton Stadium to win the Los Angeles Regional championship. USF's only other Super Regional appearance in its 27-year history came in 2006 after winning the Gainesville Regional that season.
Hofstra's 20-game winning streak tied a school record first set in 1993. That season was also under current head coach and NFCA Hall-of-Famer Bill Edwards' tenure. Edwards, who is in his 23rd season as head coach at Hofstra, has guided the Pride to Colonial Athletic Association championships in 9 of the last 11 seasons and has led the school to all of its NCAA Tournament appearances.
Hofstra and South Florida will both turn to their ace to try and get the series lead. The Pride's pitching staff is led by junior Olivia Galati, who is 33-5 overall and has won 31 straight starts. Galati has the lowest ERA (0.91) and the most shutouts in Division I with 17. USF also has a top starting pitcher with sophomore Sara Nevins (29-5, 1.01 ERA).
Galati has not lost since March 4 against UCLA and is two wins away from the NCAA single-season Division I record of 33 straight victories set by SDSU head coach Kathy Van Wyk, who posted 33 straight wins for Cal. St. Fullerton in 1982. After earning her third straight Colonial Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year award, Galati has saved her best pitching performances for the most clutch games, going 3-0 with 1.00 ERA while striking out 32 against two walks in 21 innings in regional action. Galati (West Babylon, N.Y.) threw a shutout in the winners' bracket game against SDSU one day after holding the Bruins to two runs after Hofstra had raced to a 6-0 lead.
Both Hofstra and South Florida are in the top-10 nationally in team ERA. The Bulls have given up just 102 earned runs in 399 2/3 innings for the second-best ERA in the country at 1.01. Hofstra has the sixth best mark with Galati and senior Erin Wade pitching to a 1.46 collective ERA.
Nevins tossed her seventh complete game shutout of the year to lift the Bulls to an upset win, 1-0, over the sixth-ranked Gators in the regional final. Nevins struck out 12, allowing just five hits to pick up her 29th win of the season. Like Galati, Nevins is 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament.
Hofstra's offense is trying to peak at the right time and the lineup saw contributions from top-to-bottom in out-scoring UCLA and SDSU by a combined 11-3 in the three-game sweep.
Sophomore second baseman Tori Rocha (Rehoboth, MA.) has been a consistent singles hitter who provided dependable defense throughout the season. But the second-year middle infielder recorded a hit in all three of Hofstra's NCAA Regional games, going 3-for-7 while driving in two runs.
Senior third baseman Krista Thorn (Smithtown, N.Y.) provided Hofstra's lone home run of regional action and proved to be an important insurance run in the Pride's 7-2 win over UCLA. Thorn is slugging .539 while starting all 54 games and her eight long balls is just three back of juniors Tessa Ziemba and Becca Bigler (Bainbridge, Pa.) for the team lead.
After starting the season 0-9, Hofstra is 28 games over .500. USF is on a hot streak as well, sweeping through UCF, FGCU and Florida in the regional. The Big East-member Bulls have four starters batting better than .300. Two of those players, Janine Richardson and Stephanie Medina, are tied for the team lead in home runs with seven. Sophomore shortstop Kourtney Salvarola leads the squad with a .329 average.
Hofstra's top-four hitters are all juniors. Besides her prowess as a pitcher, Galati also leads the Pride with a .361 average while registering 37 RBIs and 35 runs scored. The 72 combined runs are 23 more than the 49 runs she has given up in the pitching circle (with only 33 of those runs being earned).
Rachael Senatore (Sparta, N.J.) is batting .359 as the team's leadoff hitter while scoring 38 runs. Bigler leads the squad in runs scored with 40 batting primarily in the second slot behind Senatore and in front of Galati. Defensively, Bigler has come on strong in adjusting to her new position at short. She has a .935 fielding percentage while producing superbly at a premium position. Bigler has solidified the lineup's second spot and leads all active players on the team with a .439 on-base percentage.
Ziemba, the cleanup hitter, busted out when she registered the go-ahead RBI in Hofstra's 2-1 win over SDSU in the regional finals. The Wilmington, Del. native's fifth-inning sacrifice fly to left at Easton Stadium broke a 1-all deadlock. Ziemba leads Hofstra and the CAA with 44 RBIs and is also in the league's top-five in average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored and total bases.
Galati, Ziemba, Senatore were all named to the NFCA All-Northeast region first team. Freshman designated player Erin Trippi made the organization's all-second team. The Lyndhurst, N.J. product is batting .285 with four home runs and 31 RBIs.