Hofstra 2, Arizona State. 1
Hofstra 2, Arizona State. 1May 21, 2005
Tuscaloosa, AL -- Senior Callie Osborne (Oshawa, Ontario) threw a four-hitter with no earned runs to pick up her 25th win of the season and junior third baseman Tara Ulrich (West Nyack, NY) broke a 1-1 tie with a third-inning RBI single as Hofstra captured a 2-1 win over Arizona State on Saturday.
With the victory the Pride moves on to the regional finals for the second season in a row, although this year's format features 16 regions instead of eight. It is also the third year in a row that the Pride has won at least two NCAA Tournament games, including four last season. Hofstra also set a new record for wins in a season by improving to 43-15-1 on the season, while Arizona State ends its season at 30-26.
Hofstra will now move on to the regional finals to face Alabama on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Hofstra will need to beat Alabama twice to win the region, while the Crimson Tide needs just one win to move on to the Super Regionals.
Hofstra scored both of its runs in the bottom of the third inning when it was able to play some successful small ball. Senior center fielder Kelly Morris (Pelham, NY) led off with an infield single off the leg of Arizona State pitcher Danielle Serrano. Junior shortstop Laura Sweeney (Hopewell Junction, NY) followed with a bunt single, and junior second baseman Lisa Wambold (Hatboro, PA) bunted the runners over to second and third.
Sophomore catcher Ashley Lane (Westbury, NY) then hit a shallow bloop to right field that Arizona State second baseman Jen McCard caught over her shoulder with her momentum going away from the infield. That gave Morris just enough time to scoot home with the tying run as she eluded the tag of Sun Devil catcher Heidi Knabe with a perfect backdoor slide. Junior third baseman Tara Ulrich (West Nyack, NY) immediately followed with a line drive single to left on the first pitch from Serrano to score Sweeney and give Hofstra the 2-1 lead.
Arizona State had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning on an unearned run, when first baseman Sharee Zaleski led off with a single and was bunted over to second. Center fielder Bridgette Caron then laid down another bunt, which slipped under the glove of a charging Ulrich for an error to put runners on first and third. Zaleski then came around to score on an RBI groundout from third baseman Kim Zadrozny for the first run of the game.
After Hofstra took the 2-1 lead, the Sun Devils managed to have only one runner reach second base the rest of the way (Michelle Smith in the fifth on a one-out throwing error). However, Sweeney fielded a ground ball from Caron at shortstop and flipped to Ulrich at third base to force Smith out and effectively end the threat.
The Pride, meanwhile, twice came close to adding an insurance run. Junior second baseman Lisa Wambold (Hatboro, PA) crushed a long fly ball to left field that easily cleared the fence but curved just wide of the foul pole in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ulrich then drove a long fly ball to right field in the sixth inning that Smith caught in front of the wall to keep the score 2-1.
The insurance run was not needed, though, as Osborne did not allow a hit after the fourth inning, retiring 13 of the last 14 batters she faced to improve to 25-6 on the season. The 25 victories leaves her one shy of the single-season school record, held by Stacy Jackson (twice) and Jen Smith. Osborne finished the day allowing four hits and no earned runs while striking out six, one day after seeing her school record 21-game winning streak end against the same Arizona State team.
Lane was 1-for-2 with an RBI, extending her hitting streak to 13 games and completing a 4-for-5 afternoon at the plate. Sweeney was also 1-for-3 to cap off a 4-for-6 afternoon after hitting 3-for-3 in the opening game of the day against Mississippi Valley State. Serrano allowed four hits and struck out six for the Sun Devils, which ended their season at 30-26.
Hofstra and Alabama will be meeting for the first time in the history of their respective programs. The Pride reached the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament a year ago at Stanford, when it won four games to come one win shy of the Women's College World Series. Hofstra also won two games at the Nebraska regional in 2003, giving it eight NCAA Tournament wins in the last three years and 11 all-time.
-- Courtesy Hofstra