Moments after Hofstra clinched the NCAA Los Angeles Regional softball championship, coach Bill Edwards threw his cap high in the air -- a symbolic gesture to his players after they swept their three games in the four-team, double-elimination tournament at UCLA.
"They said if we won three in a row, that's a hat trick, so they made me throw it," Edwards said Sunday after the Pride beat San Diego State for the second straight day to advance to the Super Regionals for the first time in school history. "This win today is for all the little guys, the mid-majors, the non-BCS schools that do what we do."
Olivia Galati wasn't her dominant self, but she held the Aztecs to five hits and struck out six in a 2-1 victory -- her 31st win a row, moving her within two wins of the NCAA single-season record held by current San Diego State coach Kathy Van Wyk, who won 33 straight for Cal State Fullerton in 1982.
"We put the ball in play more today, but she was still tough on us," Van Wyk said of Galati, who has 363 strikeouts against only 24 walks and leads the nation with a 0.91 ERA. "I congratulate Hofstra and I hope they give those major conferences all the hell they deserve."
Galati had 12 strikeouts in a 2-0 win Saturday that gave Hofstra two chances to clinch the regional title Sunday. The Pride needed only one, as players poured out of the dugout and Galati leaped into the arms of catcher Courtney Crews moments after a strikeout on a high-rise ball for the final out.
"The crowd was screaming, it was absolutely crazy," Galati said. "I was so determined to get the last out that I put everything I had left inside me into that pitch. Then I tackled my catcher, but I stayed on my feet, which is a good thing."
Hofstra (41-13) trailed 1-0 in the top of the fourth, its first deficit in the tournament, but tied it in the bottom half on Tori Rocha's RBI single. The Aztecs (32-24) didn't score again, and Hofstra got the only run it would need an inning later. Rachael Senatore, who reached on an error, later scored on a sacrifice fly by Tessa Ziemba.
One of the Pride's best-executed plays came after the game when Galati offered Edwards his cap back, giving several teammates an opportunity to douse the distracted coach with a bucket of ice water. "We got him this time," Galati said, laughing. "We didn't get him after winning the [Colonial Athletic] conference championship, but this makes up for it."