SB: NCAA Bound; Pride Win CAA Championship
Courtesy: Hofstra Athletic Communications
Hempstead, NY - Tori Rocha’s two-run double provided the offense and Colonial Athletic Association Championship Most Outstanding Player Olivia Galati made it stand up as the top-seeded Hofstra Softball team won the CAA Softball Championship with a 2-1 victory over No. 2 James Madison Friday afternoon at the Hofstra Softball Stadium.
The CAA title was Hofstra’s second in a row and 10th in the last 12 years. Hofstra will advance to the NCAA Regionals after winning the 2013 CAA title.
The Pride improved to 43-11 with the win, while James Madison falls to 42-15 with the loss.
As expected, the game was a pitchers’ duel between Galati and JMU’s Jailyn Ford. Galati entered the game with a 36-10 record, a 1.40 ERA and an NCAA-leading 370 strikeouts, while Ford was 23-4 with a 1.65 ERA and 196 strikeouts.
Both teams did put a runner on second in the early going, but could not score. James Madison, which was the designated home team in the game, saw Morgan Heath lead off the bottom of the first with a double and get stranded. The Pride’s Erin Trippi led off the top of the second with a double of her own, but was doubled off on a line drive out a batter later.
The Pride broke through in the top of the third with a two-out rally started by a Galati walk. Chloe Fitzgerald followed with a single to move Galati to second. Rocha then delivered a two-run double down the right field line that scored both runners for a 2-0 Hofstra lead.
Ford (23-5) settled down after the bumpy third and retired the Pride in order in each of the next three innings. Galati, meanwhile, kept rolling along. She retired 15 of the next 16 batters, with the only JMU base runner reaching via error in the fifth.
But Hannah Hayes led off with a double to start the bottom of the sixth, just the second hit of the game for the Dukes. A sacrifice bunt from Heath moved Hayes to third and Caitlin Sandy followed with a sacrifice fly to cut the Pride lead in half. The play was disputed by Hofstra Coach Bill Edwards and the umpires met for more than five minutes before upholding the call. Following the delay, Sarah Mooney reached on a single, but Galati got Ford to fly out to left to end the inning. The run ended Galati’s 42-inning scoreless streak.
Hofstra threatened in the top of the seventh, putting runners on the corners with two outs following singles from Jess Hirschbuhl and Maggie Hawkins, but could not push across an insurance run as Ford induced a harmless infield fly to end the inning.
Galati (37-10) bore down in the seventh inning, retiring the Dukes in order on an infield pop out, a strikeout and a grounder to first to give the Pride the championship and automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. On the day, Galati allowed the one run on three hits and struck out four.
The Pride offense collected five hits off Ford with Fitzgerald, Rocha, Hirschbuhl, Trippi and Hawkins picking up one each.
Ford struck out three batters and walked one in her seven innings of work.
Galati earned her second consecutive CAA Championship Most Outstanding Player Award and third overall. The senior right-hander allowed one run on seven hits in 20 innings of work over three games. She struck out 22 batters and walked none. She also pitched the first perfect game in CAA Championship history, and the NCAA record-tying fifth of her career, in Hofstra’s win over James Madison in a second round game on Thursday.
Joining Galati on the All-Championship team were teammates Trippi, Rocha and Fitzgerald. Ford, Mooney and Heath were selected from James Madison, while Towson’s Olivia Yarbrough and Katie Lingmai and Delaware’s Lara Andrews and Shelby Jones made the team as well.
Hofstra will now await its NCAA destination when Regional selections are announced Sunday night (May 12) at 10 p.m. The selection show will be broadcast on ESPNU.