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Hofstra forces final game but Missouri finally gets to Olivia Galati

Missouri's Corinn Genovese (16) is tagged out by

Missouri's Corinn Genovese (16) is tagged out by Hofstra pitcher Olivia Galati during a rundown between third and home in Game 2 of the NCAA Columbia Regional Final at University Field in Columbia, Mo. (May 19, 2013) Credit: AP

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Hofstra found out Sunday exactly how good Missouri ace Chelsea Thomas is.

Thomas shut out the Pride for the second time in two days, 5-0, in the NCAA Columbia Regional final, eliminating Hofstra from what had been an emotional and dramatic tournament and ending its season.

Just hours after hammering Missouri's No. 2 pitcher, Nicole Hudson, in a 10-0 victory that forced the final game, the Pride struck out nine times and got only one hit.

"Chelsea took her game to another level," coach Bill Edwards said of the two-time All-American and current Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year. "Kind of the way Olivia [Galati] did on the first night here."

Galati, also an All-American, threw 34 innings and 459 pitches for Hofstra over three days and finally ran out of gas. She threw a shutout in the first game but gave up home runs to Hudson and Kelsea Roth in the final.

Galati faced Thomas in the winners' bracket Saturday and held Missouri to one hit but lost on an unearned run. She cruised again early Sunday, but humidity, fatigue and adjustments by the Missouri lineup proved too much in the final.

"There were a lot of innings between now and [the start of the weekend]," Edwards said. "A lot of pitches in between."

Edwards said he wasn't able to condition Galati this season as well as in the past because of an early-season ankle injury.

But Galati said that didn't matter. "Regardless of how I felt, I wasn't going to give up because I knew my team wasn't going to give up behind me," she said.

"This team is filled with warriors," third baseman Jess Hirschbuhl said. "Start to bottom. They fight. They never give up. Even down 5-0 in a championship game. We never gave up."

The Pride fought and clawed just to get to the final game. After losing to Missouri on Saturday, the Pride outlasted Oregon State in a tense, 10-inning, elimination game thanks to three Hofstra home runs in the final frame.

Hofstra's second straight elimination-game win early Sunday up the rematch between Thomas and Galati, two of the most accomplished pitchers in NCAA history.

"We may be a mid-major school,'' Edwards said, "but we play BCS softball."

"This region was blessed to see both of them go at it."

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