Olivia Galati's next first? Pitch Hofstra into College World Series

Hofstra pitcher Olivia Galati throws a pitch. (Undated Hofstra pitcher Olivia Galati throws a pitch. (Undated 2012 file photo) Photo Credit: Brian Ballweg

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Olivia Galati's softball resume is nearly complete after last year's season of firsts. She became the only Hofstra pitcher to win 30 games, led the nation in ERA (0.95) and was named the program's first first-team All-American.

What remains for the senior from West Babylon is to lead her team to its initial appearance in the Women's College World Series.

"I think it's a feeling that I can't even grasp the concept of right now because we've never been to the College World Series," Galati said. "So I can't give a feeling of what it would be like, because I've never been there."

The season starts Friday in Florida with a tournament that includes Arkansas, Tulsa and Florida State. Hofstra will play 11 opponents that made the NCAA Tournament last season.

Hofstra went 42-15 last season and came agonizingly close to the WCWS, advancing to its first NCAA Super Regionals, where it lost to South Florida, 2-1, in the deciding game for a Series berth.

Coach Bill Edwards envisions an even greater Galati this season. "Olivia is great because of her work ethic and because of her determination to take it upon herself to take Hofstra to the World Series," Edwards said. "She has the ability inside of her to get better. She worked hard in the offseason to get to that next gear."

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Galati, the former St. John the Baptist High School star, has a career record of 89-22 and ERA of 1.41. She has 1,020 strikeouts in 755 2/3 innings. "I think every year that you play you learn different things. Even if they are minute, you still learn," she said. "You are always taking in new information. Great athletes -- and we have a lot of them on our team -- they do that automatically. They are looking for ways to get better. If I can make this pitch hop a centimeter more it's going be that much of a difference, perfecting everything, focusing in on not missing spots, hitting every spot."

Her teammates feel that confidence. "I feel like she has that power over everybody where she just goes and throws and does what she does best," centerfielder Tessa Ziemba said.

Ziemba and shortstop Becca Bigler provide two big returning bats. Each hit 11 home runs to tie for the lead in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Galati is ready to pursue her final goal. "The excitement we had when we got to the Super Regional I think motivated all of the returning players to work just as hard if not even harder than they ever worked," she said. "You are never satisfied until you win the whole thing."

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