NORMAN, OKLA. – Despite a valiant effort from top to bottom the Bryant University softball team was eliminated from the Norman Regional in the opening round of the NCAA Championships after a 10-6 loss to Hofstra, Saturday afternoon at Marita Hynes Field.
The Bulldogs close the books on a historic season under first year head coach Shayne Lotito in which they won their first Northeast Conference Championship and made an appearance in the NCAA Softball Championships for the first time as a Division I institution.
"We are very proud of the way we were able to compete against such high caliber teams," said Lotito. "We played hard and we played our game no matter who was across the diamond and we couldn't have asked for much more."
On Saturday, the Bulldogs wasted little time taking out some of Friday night's frustration on Hofstra starter Morgan Lashley when senior shortstop Aubrey Mable (Aurora, Colo.) sent a moonshot over everything in left field, driving in classmate Kendall Corder (Carmichael, Calif.) who drew a leadoff walk, to put Bryant up 2-0 in the top of the first.
Hofstra responded right away, as Maggie Hawkins drove in Rachael Senatore with a base hit through the right side after a leadoff double to cut Bryant's advantage is half, 2-1. After Hofstra loaded the bases, designated player Kim Smith drove in two more with a single to left, put the Pride up, 3-2, with just one out in the bottom of the first. Before Hayley Bottino (Canyon Country, Calif.) doubled up Chole Fitzgerald and Michaela Transue to end the first, Tori Rocha sent a three-run homerun over the left center field fence to put Hofstra up, 6-2, after one.
As the offensive shootout continued, the Bulldogs went right back to work in the top of the second sparked by back-to-back hits from senior outfielder Lauren Guy (La Habra, Calif.) and classmate Kristen Carter (Branchville, N.J.) to put runners on the corners setting up sophomore second baseman Liana Ogata (Tustin, Calif.) who placed a single up the middle, driving home Guy, to cut the lead, 6-3. Next up, Corder doubled down the left field line to drive home Carter and bring the Bulldogs within two. Before the inning was over, junior center fielder Madeline Velasquez (Los Angeles, Calif.) cut the Hofstra edge to a run, 6-5, with a single through the left side that drove in Ogata.
After sophomore pitcher Elle Madsen's (Wheat Ridge, Colo.) first 1-2-3 inning of the Regional in the bottom of the second, the Bulldogs knotted the score, 6-6, in the top of the third thanks to Ogata's second RBI single of the afternoon.
After a pair of nice innings from the Bulldogs defensively, the Pride got back to work in the bottom of the fourth taking back the lead, 8-6, behind a two-run single through the left side from Rachael Senatore.
The Pride tacked on two more in the bottom of the six inning to up their lead to four runs, 10-6, and Hofstra reliever Taylor Pirone did the rest holding Bryant scoreless for 4.1 innings to preserve the win for the Pride.
"We are extremely proud of this senior class," added Lotito. "Especially the way they were able to lead this team the way they did and we look forward to many more seasons like this one in the future."
For all the latest news on the Bryant University softball team, visit BryantBulldogs.com.