Hofstra's Olivia Galati throws fifth perfect game

Hofstra pitcher Olivia Galati (2) with a broad

Hofstra pitcher Olivia Galati (2) with a broad smile for setting a pitching record after the game against Central Connecticut. (March 16, 2013) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

The uniqueness of softball afforded Hofstra's Olivia Galati a walk-off perfect game against James Madison Thursday in the second round of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. Hofstra won, 8-0, in a game shortened to six innings by the run rule.

No asterisk need be attached to her latest masterpiece.

"A perfect game's a perfect game,'' she said. The senior struck out 10 in tying Fordham's Jen Mineau for an NCAA- record fifth career perfect game. Galati (36-10) has 12 no-hitters and one seven-inning perfect game. She has 20 shutouts and a streak of 361/3 scoreless innings.

Host Hofstra (42-11) plays for the title Friday at 1 p.m. against James Madison, which defeated Towson, 8-1, Thursday night. The Pride must win only one game, while JMU would have to win two.

Galati started by striking out the side against a lineup that includes CAA player of the year Sarah Mooney (.418, 15 homers, 64 RBIs) and Jailyn Ford (.388, 13, 44). There was nothing close to a hit.

Hofstra took a 1-0 lead in the third as Galati led off with a single and scored on Tessa Ziemba's hit up the middle. Now, could she produce another no-no?

"I try not to pay attention, but there's this vibe in the dugout that everyone gets quiet,'' Galati said. "We don't want to talk about it, so you kind of know.''

Hofstra scored five in the fourth, so the run rule -- leading by eight or more after five innings -- was nearly in play. It became really interesting in the fifth when, after Caryn Bailey tripled in the seventh run, Galati had a chance to drive in the eighth. She lined a ball to left, deep enough to drive in Bailey, but she ran as the ball was hit and was called out for leaving third too soon. That prevented Galati from the ultimate walk-off perfect game.

"We actually were hoping that she was going to do it,'' Ziemba said. "The leftfielder made a pretty good catch and Caryn Bailey thought it went by the leftfielder. I would have loved to have seen that.''

Galati, too. "Yes, just because we were so close to it,'' she said. "Whenever you've got the opportunity to run rule a team, you always want to, regardless of if it's a perfect game or not.''

That happened in the sixth when Jess Hirschbuhl singled in the eighth run.

"There's no doubt that she could have pulled it off,'' catcher Erin Trippi said of a seven-inning perfect game. "I have all the confidence in the world.''

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