As usual, Olivia Galati stood out. But Saturday, all the star players were aligned for Hofstra's softball team as the Pride won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament with a resounding 9-1 victory over Georgia State in a game halted after the top of the fifth inning because of the eight-run rule.
Hofstra (38-13) gained an NCAA Tournament berth for the 13th time. Pairings will be announced Sunday night.
Hofstra had totaled only three runs in beating Delaware and Georgia State in its first two tournament games, but the display of power in the championship game was off the grid.
Becca Bigler belted two home runs, Krista Thorn added another, and Galati not only threw a one-hitter but blasted a three-run homer in what turned out to be Hofstra's last at-bat of the game.
Galati knew three more runs would put Hofstra in position to end the game early, and her fourth homer of the year did the job in the bottom of the fourth.
"I just went up there thinking, 'Get a good pitch and put a good swing on it,' '' she said. "Fortunately, it was a home run. [Then] I stepped on the mound and shut them down.''
Galati struck out the side in the fifth, giving her 10 for the game. She is 30-5 and has a 28-game winning streak.
Galati had a shaky first inning, walking Brenna Morrissey and allowing a long RBI double to left by Lauren Coleman. It was the first earned run allowed by Galati in her last 441/3 innings.
"I just didn't feel myself,'' she said. But Galati said that as she walked off the mound, a teammate told her, "Don't worry, we'll get you [the runs] back.'' She added, "I had the utmost confidence in my team to come back with those runs.''
Georgia State coach Roger Kincaid knew a single run off Galati would not be enough. "It's great to play with emotion,'' he said. "We got jacked up pretty good in that first inning. It's always good to jump out first, [but] they answered right back.''
Rachel Senatore led off the Hofstra first with a dribbler in front of the mound that went for a hit. Bigler then sent a line drive far over the six-foot fence in left and into the parking lot. A long home run in softball is 300 feet. Her shot seemed headed for Hempstead Turnpike.
Bigler said she's had the distance before "in practice and usually foul. It was just gone, a great feeling. I think it was more important for Liv. We all just wanted to help her out.''
Thorn ended the first inning by homering down the leftfield line, about four feet to the right of the foul pole. It was her seventh.
Georgia State starter Alana Thomas, who gave up a solo home run to Tori Rocha in a 1-0 loss on Friday, seemed shaken by Bigler's shot. "All home runs do that, kind of,'' said Thomas, who was removed in the second inning. "I couldn't get my curve working like I did yesterday.''
Bigler led off the third inning with another home run, tying her with Tessa Ziemba for the team lead with 11. Hofstra added two more runs off reliever McCall Langford on an RBI single by Erin Trippi and an RBI double by Courtney Crews.
Hofstra swept through the CAA schedule without a loss. "You go 19-0, the pressure's on you,'' coach Bill Edwards said, "and the kids just responded tremendously.''
Remarkably, Hofstra started the season 2-11. "It seems like 10 years ago. That's totally over and done with, forgotten about,'' Thorn said. "We're a whole different team right now.''