The Colonial Athletic Association title and NCAA bid were on the line -- Hofstra took care of that in a 2-1 victory over James Madison -- but because Hofstra softball is so much about star pitcher Olivia Galati, the play of the game turned out to be the out that got away, costing Galati her scoreless streak and sixth consecutive shutout.
One day removed from a perfect game, Galati had a 2-0 lead entering the sixth inning. Tori Rocha's two-run double in the third had provided Galati the lead. Now, could Galati throw yet another shutout?
Hannah Hayes led off the sixth with a double -- JMU's second hit of the game -- and went to third on a sacrifice bunt. Caitlin Sandy then lined a ball to center, where Tessa Ziemba made the catch and, seeing Hayes tag at third, fired to the plate. "My mentality was, 'This girl will not score,' " Ziemba said. "I gave it my best shot."
The throw was on target, but plate umpire Don Brown called obstruction on catcher Erin Trippi as the runner and catcher collided. The run scored, ending Galati's shutout bid and scoreless streak at 42 innings. Umpire crew chief Tom Meyer explained, "It's a judgment call for the plate umpire. The catcher can't hinder or impede the progress of the runner before she has the ball or she's about to receive the ball. So, in his judgment she had not yet begun to receive the ball and made contact with the runner, so he called obstruction. Everybody agreed."
Hofstra coach Bill Edwards argued, but said, "It's a tough call and probably the toughest interpretation in the rule book. I just went out and had to vent a little, I knew he wasn't going to change. I just had to get my two cents in."
Trippi said, "It's part of the game, you can't really do anything about it. I was upset, I wasn't devastated. If anything it's like, 'OK, let's go, give her the ball, get back on the mound ready to go.' "
Galati (37-10), who went on to pitch a complete-game three-hitter, took the run in stride, saying, "That doesn't really matter to me, especially because we're in postseason. So, a win's a win."
Hofstra is 43-11 and headed to the NCAAs, where last year the Pride fell one game short of making the Women's World Series. It will be Galati's final opportunity. "It's really important for us," Galati said, "to go out with a bang."
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