The usual stellar pitching of Olivia Galati and the unexpected home run power of Tori Rocha gave Hofstra a 1-0 victory over Georgia State on Friday, moving the Pride within one win of the Colonial Athletic Association softball title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Host Hofstra (37-13) will meet Georgia State (38-17) -- which beat James Madison, 9-1, in a game ended by the run rule in the fifth inning Friday -- at noon Saturday. If Georgia State wins, a second game will be played.
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Galati's three-hit, 14-strikeout performance was up to her usual standard as she earned her 27th straight victory. But Rocha's third-inning home run was only the second of her career -- at any level.
"I was always that little peanut," said the 5-1 sophomore from Rehoboth, Mass. "A lefthanded slapper. When I came to Hofstra, they turned me into a power hitter."
Well, not exactly. Her only other homer came at George Mason on April 15.
"I thought I flew out to centerfield," she said of that day. "When I heard my teammates go nuts, that's when I knew. That feeling hasn't really left me. There's something about your first home run; that feeling stays with you."
As will her second one, which she belted over the wall in right-center.
Georgia State starter Alana Thomas had retired the first seven batters when Rocha, hitting eighth in the order, came to the plate.
"I had a feeling she was going to hit one out. I'm so ecstatic for her," Galati said. "For her to come up so big in such a big game like this is unbelievable. She got the timely hit. Fortunately, it was a home run."
Hofstra hit the ball well but had only two other hits off Thomas. Galati (29-5) threw her 18th shutout after pitching out of a jam in the fifth inning.
Galati started the inning by striking out Callie Alford but Ashley Christy singled to center. Audrey Mason then bunted toward Galati, who threw late to second trying to force Christy. That put two runners on.
"I knew it was the wrong choice afterward," Galati said.
"But I have the confidence in myself and the team that we were going to get the next two outs regardless, so I wasn't worried at all."
Galati got out of trouble by striking out Whitney Phillips and pinch hitter Taylor Scarpantonio.
If needed, Galati will start both games Saturday.
"We just need to jump on Galati's back," Hofstra coach Bill Edwards said, "get a couple of key hits and hopefully, we can come out successful."