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Hofstra softball team looks forward to facing UCLA

Hofstra University's Tori Rocha (wearing helmet) heads back

Hofstra University's Tori Rocha (wearing helmet) heads back to the dugout with celebrating teammates after hitting a home run against Georgia State. (May 11, 2012) Credit: James Escher

Hofstra's softball team has drawn 12-time national champion UCLA in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

The double-elimination regional in Los Angeles, which also includes Florida State and San Diego State, begins Friday with Hofstra facing the host Bruins at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

UCLA defeated Hofstra and ace pitcher Olivia Galati, 9-4, March 4 in Orlando, Fla. "Obviously, we weren't at the peak of our ability as a team,'' junior outfielder Rachael Senatore said Monday. "We made our mistakes early, we learned from them. Having the second chance, knowing that they have such tradition, knowing that there's a possibility of really making a name for ourselves, really leaving something behind as a legacy for our team, you don't need anything else. That in itself is an amazing opportunity.''

Galati (30-5) has not lost since that game against UCLA, winning a school-record 28 straight and becoming the program's first 30-game winner. Hofstra (38-13) has won 17 straight.

UCLA (36-18) has a powerful lineup led by Stephany LaRosa, who is batting .445 with 16 home runs and 60 runs batted in. Andrea Harrison and B.B. Bates have 14 homers each and Samantha Camuso has 13.

Hofstra is 1-3 against UCLA, with a 10-5 victory in 2000 over the then-No. 1-ranked Bruins in a tournament in Hawaii. "We've always played these teams tough. We know we can play there,'' Senatore said. "It's not like we're shell-shocked or saying this is going to be overwhelming. We're going out there knowing we have the opportunity to upset somebody, to surprise people.''

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