Heartbreak in Hempstead

Harvard loses first tourney game in nine gut-wrenching innings

Down to its final strike in its opening round NCAA Tournament game against host Hofstra, Harvard scored twice on a dramatic defensive miscue to seize a 2-1 lead.

Then, with the Pride down to its own last strike in the bottom half of the inning, Melissa Hodge took Crimson ace Shelly Madick deep to force extra frames.

Pam Drelinksi stroked Hofstra's third solo home run of the contest off Madick with one out in the ninth inning to walk off with the win and deal Harvard a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat in its first tourney game since 2000.

The trio of wind-aided longballs out of the Hofstra Softball Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y., ultimately resolved a classic pitcher's duel between Madick and Pride ace Kayleigh Lotti in the home team's favor.

Both hurlers went the distance. Lotti improved to 23-4 on the year with a nine-inning, five-hit, eight-walk, 11-strikeout performance. Both runs she allowed were unearned. Madick went 8 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and a walk while striking out five.

Hofstra took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on a line-drive homer by No. 3 hitter Carolann Lubach.

The Crimson remained scoreless through six innings despite putting eight runners on base, including two hits and a walk by senior shortstop Lauren Brown and two intentional passes issued to freshman slugger Lauren Murphy.

Freshman Stephanie Krysiak started the rally in the seventh with a leadoff double. Lotti rebounded to fan Brown but walked senior Julia Kidder to put the go-ahead run aboard. Murphy came to the plate with the chance to deliver the decisive blow, but went down on three straight fastballs. However, freshman Melissa Schellberg earned a five-pitch walk to load the bases for Jennifer Francis with two outs. After working a full count, Francis lined a one-hopper to second baseman Laura Jaxheimer, who booted the grounder, sending Krysiak and Kidder home.