Hofstra gets three HRs in 10th to advance in softball regional following heartbreaking loss

Hofstra's Becca Bigler, left, and Tori Rocha, right,

Hofstra's Becca Bigler, left, and Tori Rocha, right, collide while trying to catch a ball off the bat of Missouri's Princess Krebs, in the NCAA regional softball game. (May 18, 2013) (Credit: AP)

COLUMBIA, Mo. - One needed only to look at Hofstra coach Bill Edwards at different points Saturday night to gauge where his team stood in the NCAA regional at that particular moment in time.

Edwards was teary-eyed, heartbroken at 2 p.m. local time, just minutes after the Pride lost a 1-0 nail-biter to Missouri in the winners' bracket despite outhitting the Tigers 8-1.

"This shows you how really cruel this game can be sometimes," he said then, nodding his head toward pitcher Olivia Galati, whose 59-pitch complete game was spoiled by an unearned run.

Flash forward to 8:15 p.m, after 10 -- yes, 10 -- more innings from Galati and three dramatic home runs earned the Pride an 8-4 elimination-game win over Oregon State, its second in two days, and a spot in Sunday's regional final.

By then, his face was stapled in a smile.

"I get emotional because I appreciate these kids," Edwards said. "It's because we work them so hard and I demand so much from them and they give so much of themselves to be a student athlete. And I want more."

He couldn't have gotten much more from his superstar, Galati. She threw 197 pitches over 16 stress-filled innings on the day. Only two innings were less than spectacular. She gave up two runs in the fifth inning and one in the sixth to Oregon State, but kept the game tied at 3-3 long enough for Pride first baseman Maggie Hawkins to untie it with a mammoth home run to center in the top of the 10th.

Hofstra scored five runs in the 10th on three home runs. Two batters after Hawkins, Galati crushed one of her own. Then later in the inning, centerfielder Tessa Ziamba hit a three-run shot to put the game out of reach.

"We went from defending the ball in the strike zone to attacking the ball in the strike zone," Edwards said.

Galati outdueled Missouri's two-time All-American Chelsea Thomas in the first game, by Tigers head coach Ehren Earleywine's own admission.

The two aces will square off again Sunday. Hofstra has to beat Missouri twice to advance to a super regional.

Galati will start and finish each game in the circle, for the same reason Edwards said he never considered taking her out at any point Saturday.

"I have made one pitching change with Olivia Galati," he said. "We lost that game. I told myself I will never, ever, ever pull her again. She's that kind of kid. She will find a way. Pulled her once. Lost a conference championship.

"I will never, ever pull that kid again."

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