May 23, 2010

Tucson, Ariz. - Senior first baseman Michele DePasquale (Waterford, N.J.) hit a two-run double and junior third baseman Sara Michalowski (Philadelphia, Pa.) hit a two-run homer in a four-run fifth inning as the Hofstra Softball team came from behind to defeat No. 14 Oklahoma State 5-2 for the second straight night to stay alive in an elimination game in the NCAA Regionals at Arizona's Hillenbrand Stadium.

With the win, Hofstra moves on to face No. 3 Arizona tomorrow in the regional finals, which begin at 12 p.m. (Pacific time) and improves to 45-11 on the year, tying the school record for wins in a season set two years ago (45-13). Oklahoma State sees its season end with a 44-16 record.

Freshman pitcher Olivia Galati (West Babylon, N.Y.) went the distance to get the win and improve to 26-6 on the year, tying the school record for wins in a season held by Stacy Jackson (twice) and Jen Smith. Hofstra also moves on to the regional finals for the fourth time in the last seven years, including twice against Arizona. The Wildcats eliminated the Pride 5-0 in the 2008 Regionals in Hempstead.

With the Pride down 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, senior pinch hitter Christie Novatin (Farmingdale, N.J.) was hit by a pitch with one out, and moved to second on a sacrifice from senior center fielder Kris Root (Waynesboro, Pa.), who was barely nipped at first base on a throw from catcher Tamara Brown. Freshman pitcher Olivia Galati (West Babylon, N.Y.) lined a single into left to put runners on first and third, and DePasquale hit a sharp grounder that took a wicked hop over the glove of Oklahoma State shortstop Chelsea Garcia and rolled all the way to the wall to allow two runs to score.

Michalowski then followed with a towering home run into left-center field, her eighth round-tripper of the season, giving Hofstra a 5-2 lead heading into the sixth.

Hofstra struck first in the bottom of the second on a two-out RBI double from freshman left fielder Becca Bigler (Bainbridge, Pa.). Bigler nearly had a two-run homer, but hit the center field wall on a fly to score junior third baseman Sara Michalowski (Philadelphia, Pa.), who was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a sacrifice from sophomore second baseman Jess Hirschbuhl (Jamison, Pa.).

The lead didn't last long, as with two outs in the third, Oklahoma State's Mariah Gearhart chopped a ball in front of the plate that bounced over the head of Michalowski at third and landed right on the left field foul line for a double. Katelyn Bright then hit a soft line drive single to right field that landed just over the out-stretched hand of Hirschbuhl for a single, scoring Gearhart to knot the score at 1-1.

Bright moved to second on the throw to the plate from Hofstra right fielder Tessa Ziemba (Wilmington, Del.), and Alysia Hamilton hit a spinning cue ball off the end of the bat that took a wicked hop on shortstop Trisha Dreslinski (Kingsville, Ohio) for an infield single, moving Bright to third. Galati, though, got first baseman Julie Ward to ground out weakly to Hirschbuhl at second to keep the game tied at 1-1.

Bigler made a bid for a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning, as she hit a towering fly ball to deep center field on a 3-2 pitch with Hirschbuhl (hit-by-pitch) on first. The ball hung up in the air, though, and Oklahoma center fielder Kelsey Anchors was able to settle under it one step in front of the warning track for the third out.

An untimely catcher's interference led to the tiebreaking run in the fifth inning as Oklahoma State took a 2-1 lead. Gearhart put down a bunt single with one out in the fifth and a catcher's interference with Bright at the plate put runners on first and second. Hamilton then went the other way with a single into shallow left and Gearhart sped around third and came home with her second run of the game.

After Hofstra took the 5-2 lead, Oklahoma State threatened in the top of the sixth as Megan Castle lined a single up the middle and Chelsea Garcia lined a single to right to put runners on first and second with one out. A passed ball moved the runners up a base, but Galati got pinch hitter Taylor Marcum to pop up to second for the second out and Gearhart flew out to left to end the threat.

The win was Hofstra's eighth against nationally ranked teams in the CAA Tournament in the last 10 years, five of which have come against teams ranked in the top 15. Hofstra and Arizona have played four times in the last three years, and the Pride is still trying to get its first run off the Wildcats, despite numerous close calls.