After Olivia Galati set the Hofstra softball record with her 97th career victory in a 9-0 two-hitter over Central Connecticut Saturday, the senior All-American looked even better in the second game. She entered the final inning with a one-hit shutout over Connecticut in the Hofstra Invitational.
Then it got dicey for the Pride's ace. Hofstra's six-run lead, started by Tessa Ziemba's eighth home run and extended with two RBIs from Erin Trippi and one each by Caryn Bailey, Maggie Hawkins and D.J. Slugh, quickly vanished.
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With snow falling, Emily O'Donnell walked and pinch hitter Jacklyn Dubois hit a two-run home run to get UConn (8-7) on the board. Marissa Guches followed with a homer to left, making it 6-3. Kim Silva doubled and scored on a hit by Brittany Duellos, who went to second on an error. Now it was 6-4. Still none out.
Coach Bill Edwards was about to pay Galati a visit, but he had no intention of removing her. He thought back to Stacy Jackson, who had the most career victories before Galati.
"She looked at me and would say, 'What are you doing out here? Go sit down,' " Edwards recalled of Jackson. "And then she'd strike out the next three."
Galati later said she merely told Edwards, " 'I got this. I'll get us out.' "
And she did. Audrey Grinnel's single sent Jacklyn Duclos to third before Valerie Sadowl went down swinging for the first out. Pinch hitter Lauren Duggan reached on a forceout, with Duclos scoring the fifth run. When Maddy Schiappa lined out to left, the game was over and the Pride had a 6-5 win.
Galati, who struck out a combined 17 in the two games, improved to 9-7. The Pride (9-8) has won six straight.
Edwards' faith in Galati was rewarded. "She has always worked herself out of the jam," he said of the former St. John the Baptist High School star. "The one time I did pull her, we lost. I've always given her the opportunity to work herself out. I learned that she has the ability to do that."
Galati added, "I like to finish it. In a situation like that where the game got close, I like to work out of it."
It was exactly what her teammates expected. "She's done so much for this team. She's led us the entire way, basically," Ziemba said of Galati's career at Hofstra. "I love when she pitches every single game because I know she's going to get it done. The confidence in the field when she's on the mound is so great. You want to be out there, you want to play for her, you want to play behind her."
In the victory over Central Connecticut (8-6), the visitors committed three errors, two in Hofstra's six-run first. Ziemba and Chloe Fitzgerald had RBI singles in the inning and Caryn Bailey had a two-run homer in the third.
The game was ended after five innings by the run rule.