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May 18, 2013
Regional Notebook: Tigers survive
As Hofstra coach Bill Edwards tried to sum up a 1-0 loss to Missouri in the NCAA Softball Regionals, he had to pause to gather his emotions.
"Shows you really cruel," Edwards said, shaking his head. "How really cruel this game can be sometimes."
Edwards' counterpart in the home dugout did not disagree.
"I don't know if there are softball gods or not," Mizzou's Ehren Earleywine said. "I do understand his feeling of frustration because they were the better team today.
"I felt like we got beat in almost every aspect of the game."
The Pride outhit Missouri 8-1. The Tigers' lone run was the result of an error. In the bottom of the third, Princess Krebs reached on a Hofstra error. Krebs popped a ball up just to the right of the second base bag. Becca Bigler and Tori Rocha converged, but got in each other's way as the ball bounced off Bigler's glove. Krebs moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on Emily Crane's two-out single up the middle. It was Missouri's only base hit of the game.
The Tigers never mounted any other serious threat. In fact, a fifth inning walk to Corrin Genovese represented Mizzou's only other baserunner of the game.
Meanwhile, the Pride were putting runners all over the basepaths against Missouri ace Chelsea Thomas. The first three Hofstra hitters reached in the top of the first on two singles and a walk. But Thomas got a force out at home on a line drive to Krebs at third and struck out the next two batters.
"When there's runners on base, I tend to shift to a different gear," Thomas said. "I don't know, I'm just competitive in that way. I don't want anyone to score."
"All the great ones do, don't they?" Edwards said. "All of the great pitchers can take their game to another level when the game is on the line and certainly she's a great one."
That was the first of multiple Hofstra threats. Thomas had only one perfect inning on the day. She pitched out of a first and second one-out situation in the fifth. But Hofstra's best chance to tie the game came in the top of the sixth. Caryn Bailey singled and stole second with two out. Starting pitcher Olivia Galati then lined a single to left field. Nicole Hudson, the winning pitcher for Missouri on Friday, fielded the ball and threw a strike home where Jenna Marston easily tagged out Bailey trying to tie the game.
"I just got myself in a good position where I knew I could throw that girl out when they sent her," Hudson said. "I felt like it was a pretty good throw when it left my hand. I was kind of surprised when she went."
It was just the fourth game Hudson has played in left field this season.
"Defensive specialist," Earleywine joked. "They're all about being a team player. There's no selfish kids on the team. I don't get a lot of bad mannerisms or rolls of the eyes or big sighs of 'Oh, do I gotta play there?' They'll do whatever I ask of them. They're good kids. They are. They may not like doing those positions, but you'd never know it."
The end result was a 1-0 win for the Tigers, after Thomas retired Erin Trippi on a fly ball to the warning track in right field with runners at first and second to end the seventh inning.
"Under those circumstances, I would send that runner a hundred times," Edwards said. "When you don't come through so many times early in the game, then you have to take some chances late in the game."
"I totally agree with what he did. With two outs, you've got to send them," Earleywine said. "He did the right thing. We just came and got it.
"Both coaches would do the same thing tomorrow."
Praise for Galati: While Thomas got the win, it is hard to argue she was the best pitcher in Saturday's game. Olivia Galati has retired 29 of the last 32 batters she has faced in the regional. She lowered her earned run average to 1.31 and upped her nation's-best total to 381 strikeouts on the season.
"It didn't surprise me because I've watched her a lot," Earleywine said. "She's shut down a lot of really good teams. I have a lot of admiration for that kid. She's not a physical specimen. You know, she's not the 5-10 or 5-11 lanky premier pitcher that you see in these top conferences, but she does a lot with what she has. She pitches with a lot of heart, she's extremely competitive, she locates, she spins it, she throws hard enough to get good hitters out. I was not surprised in any way, shape or form. Perhaps our hitters were. Maybe they were taking her lightly because she's from a mid-major conference, but I can assure you that they will not the next time they face her."
Sit Back and Wait: The win left Missouri needing just one more win to advance to the Super Regional next weekend in Columbia. The Tigers will play at 1 p.m. tomorrow. The opponent is unknown. Hofstra will play the winner of an elimination game between Oregon State and Stony Brook at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The winner of that game will have to beat the Tigers twice on Sunday to advance.
"It is frustrating, But we did outhit them and we outplayed them" Hofstra center fielder Tessa Ziemba said. "I haven't seen my team compete like that in a really, really long time. We wanted that so bad. You could see it in their eyes. We're not done yet. I have faith that we're gonna beat the team that wins this game and then we have two against them tomorrow and we just have to play our butts off and have faith."
For Earleywine, there is no guesswork and no suspense to his approach on Sunday.
"For her to throw," Earleywine said. "She's gonna have 24-plus hours to rest between starts and I think she should be fine."
First pitch on is at 1 p.m. Game two, if necessary, would start at approximately 3:30. PowerMizzou.com will provide complete Sunday coverage.
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