LOS ANGELES -- No player on Hofstra's softball team was more motivated to play UCLA in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament than Olivia Galati, and the Pride's junior righthander made the most of her second chance.
After being torched for 16 hits and five earned runs in a 9-4 loss to the Bruins on March 4, Galati brought her "A'' game Friday night in the first round of the Los Angeles Regional, striking out 14 and escaping a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh in Hofstra's 7-2 victory at Easton Stadium.
"I was really pumped up, I wanted to finish the game and I may have been squeezing the ball a little more than I was earlier,'' said Galati (31-5), who threw 130 pitches. "In my head, I feel like I can get anyone out and that was my mentality.''
UCLA finally got to Galati in the sixth, when Stephany LaRosa and Andrea Harrison hit back-to-back homers to cut the Bruins' deficit to 6-2. Samantha Camuso doubled off the leftfield wall with one out, but Galati induced two pop-ups to escape further damage.
Krista Thorn hit her eighth home run of the season to give Hofstra a five-run cushion in the top of the seventh and after the 12th-seeded Bruins (36-19) loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half, Galati struck out LaRosa and Harrison and got B.B. Gates to foul out to leftfielder Michelle Lavagnino to give Hofstra its 18th straight win.
Hofstra (39-13) will play San Diego State (31-22) on Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern time in the winners' bracket.
"Watching our swings in the first inning, I thought we might be able to score,'' Hofstra coach Bill Edwards said. "In the games we've lost this year, we haven't gotten the key hits, but today we did.''
Galati struck out Talee Snow looking for the second out in the third for her 980th career strikeout, breaking the school record of 979 set by Kayleigh Lotti from 2006-09. She followed that by striking out Katie Schroeder for her eighth of the game to end the inning.
"Olivia threw two incredible changeups in hitters' counts to get out of it,'' Edwards said.
Becca Bigler had a run-scoring double and Rachel Senatore a two-run double to back Galati. "I just thought about this like it was the Colonial Athletic Association,'' said Bigler, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. "We expect to score runs, that was our mind-set and that's what we did.''