Hofstra edges USF softball in 11th, 2-1
TAMPA -- It was billed as a duel of two of the nation's top pitchers, and USF's Sara Nevins and Hofstra's Olivia Galati didn't disappoint Friday night, taking a 1-1 tie into the 11th inning before the Pride pulled out a 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional.
"Both teams, I thought, played flawless," said coach Ken Eriksen, whose Bulls (48-12) have another shot at the Pride today at 2:30 p.m., with a third game following if the Bulls can win. To do so, they'll have to solve Galati, who won her 32nd straight decision, one short of an NCAA record, and held USF to one hit in the final eight innings.
Hofstra (42-13) scored in the 11th when D.J. Slugh singled, advanced on an illegal pitch and sacrifice bunt, then scored from third on a single by Michelle Lavagnino, batting ninth in the Pride lineup. Galati got USF's 3-4-5 hitters to hit into easy popups to end the game.
"I knew it was going to come down to one player, one situation, getting the one hit you have to have," Hofstra coach Bill Edwards said.
Nevins was called five times for illegal pitches, with officials taking issue with her delivery, and those calls factored in both of Hofstra's runs. Eriksen said his pitchers had not been called for any illegal pitches since the Bulls' season opener.
"That was the last time that any of this came up," he said. "Our umpires in our country do such a phenomenal job all year long. ... I can't fault Sara at all for continuing to do what she's been told is good all year long. I'm still kind of confused."
USF (48-12), hosting an NCAA Super Regional for the first time, drew a sellout crowd of 1,561, a record for USF Softball Stadium. Today's winner advances to the College World Series in Oklahoma City.
"The nice part is you come out, you get hot, let it roll and the day's over," Eriksen said. "I've been with this team for seven, eight months now, and I know what they can do. It comes down to one day."
Hofstra's scored in the first, with an illegal-pitch call negating an out and the Pride scoring on a Krista Thorn RBI single, with another run stopped with an out at the plate. USF got its run in the third, when second baseman Alexis Nowell singled, then saw pinch-runner Courtney Goff advance on three consecutive bunts by Ashli Goff, Gina Kafalas and Jessica Mouse, tying the game at 1-1.
Nevins got out of jams in the sixth, seventh and eighth, stranding runners in scoring position with third-out strikeouts in all three innings. USF had runners in scoring position in the seventh, ninth and 10th but couldn't bring in the winning run.