Sometimes, you have to make a little noise to get heard.
Last weekend, the Hofstra softball team turned the volume all the way up.
Playing as the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Division I Softball Los Angeles Regional, the Pride knocked off top-seeded host UCLA and San Diego State twice to advance to the Super Regional round for the first time in program history.
With a roster solely comprised of players from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, Hofstra finally broke through to the next round after being on the brink for the better part of the last decade.
“I wanted our seniors to experience something new and different since they’ve been here,” Hofstra head coach Bill Edwards said. “We’ve been to many regionals and hosted a few, but we could never reach that next step.
“We’ve been knocking on the door every year. It’s a tremendous accomplishment for our program. We’re not a BCS school, we don’t get a lot of attention … I guess you have to do what we just did for people to take notice. We’ve been close so many times.”
Junior pitcher Olivia Galati, a native of West Babylon, N.Y., has been an integral part of the Pride’s deeper run into the postseason. She allowed just three earned runs in three regional games, while striking out 32 batters, including 14 UCLA Bruins.
Galati has won 31 consecutive games heading into the NCAA Super Regional at South Florida in Tampa on Friday. The streak is just two wins shy of the NCAA Division I single-season mark of 33 set in 1982 by Kathy Van Wyk.
“She has the ability to make the big pitch at the biggest moment,” Edwards said. “UCLA had a couple home runs hit, a couple runners on base and a three-and-two count to one of their better hitters, and she throws this great change-up. She has total command of all her pitches in every part of the game, which really makes her special.”
Edwards, a 2009 inductee to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Hall of Fame, credits Galati’s father, Nick, for the hurlers’ tough mental approach to the game.
“Anybody that steps into the batter’s box against her, she wants to strikeout,” Edwards said.
“Ever since I told my dad I wanted to be a pitcher and play softball, he was out there practicing with me almost every day,” Galati said. “When other kids were out there playing with their friends, I was in the backyard or basement practicing. He really worked with me on the mental part of being a pitcher and believing in myself that no matter who I’m pitching against I just need to go out there and pitch.”
Galati grew up just 20 minutes down the road from Hofstra in Long Island, and would attend the Pride’s games when she was a kid. Edwards followed Galati’s outstanding prep and summer ball career as did many other coaches around the country, but there was no pressure to sign with the Pride.
But Galati decided that staying close to home was best for her family, plus she felt comfortable with Edwards and the successful program he was running right down the road. She wanted to be involved in the Pride’s quest to keep raising the bar. And, her parents to attend practically every game.
|May 20||2-1 vs. SDSU||6||1|
|May 19||2-0 vs. SDSU||12||0|
|May 18||7-2 vs. UCLA||14||2|
“I wanted to be a part of a team with all Northeastern kids that would make a run to go to the World Series,” Galati said. “I really believed we would be able to do it after meeting the coaches. I believed it would be possible for us to break through.”
In their 13th appearance in the NCAA tournament, the Pride finally achieved the feat, but it did not look good at the start of the season.
Incredibly, the start of the 2012 season was dismal for the Pride. The squad began the season 0-9 and was just hoping for a victory at the beginning of March, not thinking about a trip to the postseason.
“We had such a rough start in the beginning of the season we really did not give up,” Galati said. “We told each other we wouldn’t give up on each other. Once we got our first win against Virginia Tech, I think we started to calm down and turn it around. Our goal in the beginning of the season was to win our conference championship, and then our goal changed to we need to win a game. We accomplished that and so much pressure was taken off of us.”
Since coming up winless in the first nine contests, the Pride has compiled a 41-4 mark, including a 19-0 record against Colonial Athletic Association foes. Hofstra has won a school-record 20 consecutive games heading into Super Regional play.
Galati leads the nation with a 0.91 ERA, ranks second in Division I with 0.66 walks allowed per seven innings, and is fifth in the country with 10.0 strikeouts per seven innings. But she is not even thinking about her statistics, just winning.
“I can look at them after the season,” Galati said. “During the season, I don’t really like to pay attention to it because at this point in the season, it’s all about winning. If you pitch your game, and play the game with your team, the numbers will come.”
“She has the ability and the talent to pitch against anybody in the country,” Edwards said.
The Hofstra-South Florida Super Regional will be televised by ESPNU. Action begins at 7 p.m. ET May 25 in the best-of-three-game series.