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Courtesy: CAA/Ben Solomon

Hofstra Forces Game Two, But Falls To No. 6 Missouri in NCAA Regionals

Courtesy: CAA
          Release: 05/19/2013
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Hofstra 10, Missouri 0 (5 inn)
Missouri 5, Hofstra 0

Columbia, Mo. -  Hofstra’s offense erupted for 10 runs in the first game to send the NCAA Columbia Regional to a deciding contest, but No. 6 overall seed Missouri’s Chelsea Thomas threw a complete-game one-hit shutout to send the Tigers to a 5-0 victory in the clinching game on Sunday at University Field.

Senior pitcher Olivia Galati became the first 40-game winner in Hofstra history with a five-inning four-hit shutout in Hofstra’s 10-0 win in the first game and threw every pitch in the Pride’s five total games in the regional. But in the final game, Missouri scored in the first and Kelsey Roth added a solo home run in the second as the Tigers posted the wire-to-wire victory to advance to the Super Regionals.

Nicole Hudson hit a two-run home run and scored two runs total to help Missouri advance. Senior Jess Hirschbuhl logged Hofstra’s only hit in her final collegiate game.

Hofstra ended the season with a 46-13 record in setting the program-standard for single-season wins, besting the previous mark of 45-win campaigns set by both the 2008 and 2010 squads.  Missouri, which is ranked sixth by the NFCA and eighth by ESPN, advanced to the Super Regionals for the sixth consecutive season and improved to 38-12.

Galati finished one of the best careers of any athlete in program history with a 129-34 record, a Division I record-tying five perfect games, 1,410 strikeouts and 12 no-hitters. The four-time Colonial Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year was the program’s first-ever First Team All-America selection in 2012 and made a bid for another nod this year by setting the program’s single-season wins record and strikeout record. She currently leads all Division I pitchers in strikeouts with 395 and shutouts with 22.

Galati ended 2013 with a 40-12 record and 49 complete games.

For the second time in two days, Galati matched up with a fellow All-America selection in Thomas. The matchup of CAA versus SEC Pitchers of the Year selections didn’t disappoint again following a 1-0 Mizzou win on Saturday in which the only run scored was unearned as Galati took the hard-luck loss despite a one-hitter.

In the rematch, Thomas struck out nine and retired 14 in a row from the second-through-sixth innings. Combined, the two aces have seven conference Pitcher of the Year awards with four CAA nods for Galati and two Big 12 and one SEC selection for Thomas (Mizzou switched conference affiliation before this season).

Galati had not allowed an earned run in 11 innings against a Missouri team that entered Sunday with a .313 collective average. The Tigers finally broke through against the right-hander when MacKenzie Sykes hit a RBI single up the middle to score Hudson for the game-opening run in the finale.

Mizzou threatened for more in the first, though Galati gutted it out and kept the deficit to one when Angela Randazzo flied out to the warning track in left.

Roth provided the key insurance run in the second, hitting a 2-2 pitch out to left for her team-leading 16th homer of the season and the 2-0 edge.

The Tigers tacked on three runs in the fifth when Emily Crane scored on a throwing error and Hudson pulled a two-run homer to right over the Tigers logo for a 5-0 advantage.

Galati threw 459 total pitches in the regional, including 166 on Sunday despite throwing three complete games in the two previous days. She was the only Hofstra pitcher to throw a pitch in logging five complete games in humid conditions.

In the first game, senior Becca Bigler and freshman Caryn Bailey each hit three-home runs to key a nine-run second- inning rally as the Pride defeated Mizzou, 10-0, in a five-inning run-rule shortened contest in the first game to send the afternoon to a winner-take-all elimination game. Hofstra pounded out nine hits and capitalized on four Tigers’ errors.

Galati threw her fourth complete game of the NCAA Tournament in allowing just four hits as Hofstra posted a win over a top-10 opponent for the second time this season after defeating Mizzou. It was the highest-ranked opponent Hofstra has beaten since the Pride posted a 7-2 victory in Orlando over then No. 5-Texas on March 1.

Hofstra broke the game open in the second by scoring nine runs on seven hits all after the leadoff batter was retired. Missouri elected to sit Thomas in the first game, starting Hudson.

The Pride generated two base-runners in the first but Hudson pitched out of a jam. Undaunted, Hofstra responded by sending 12 batters to the plate. Bailey started the onslaught with a double and Galati followed with a single. Bigler then smashed her career-high 12th home of the season for a three-run shot into the left-field bleachers.

Chloe Fitzgerald followed with Hofstra’s fourth consecutive hit and Ziemba reached on an infield single. Missouri appeared to get out of the jam when Hudson induced a routine ground ball to third that Corrin Genovese threw wide of first base, allowing Fitzgerald and Ziemba to come around and score.

Hirschbuhl was hit by a pitch, Hawkins singled and Bailey sent a towering shot that curled just inside the right-field foul pole for her ninth home run and the 9-0 edge.

Junior Tori Rocha added a RBI single in the fourth for the final margin. Hofstra’s nine-run inning tied its season-high mark as the Pride also scored nine run in the fifth inning in a win at Fordham.

Bigler hit her first home run since May 1 and Bailey went deep for the first time since April 16. Hudson took the loss and fell to 11-6.

Hofstra has won at least one NCAA Tournament game in the last 11 appearances and has been victorious in at least two games in a regional in the last four appearances dating to 2008.

Ziemba’s 50 RBIs this season were the third-highest single-season mark in program history, trailing only Crystal Boyd’s 53 output in 1992 and Ashley Lane’s 63 in 2006. Ziemba’s 180 career RBIs is tied with Lane for the most in team history. Her 39 home runs finished just one shy of matching Lane’s record of 40 set from 2004-07.