It is said that an elephant never forgets. For the Tufts University Jumbos softball team, Raina Galbiati provided a moment this season that would be hard to escape from one’s memory.
Her pinch hit in the Division III Championship Series clinching game was just one of many favorable moments for the squad in 2015 as they defended their title yet again. To say the Jumbos dominated their level is an understatement: the Medford, Mass., program went a video-game-on-rookie-mode-like 51-0.
In Galbiati’s first season with the program, the bar has been set extremely high.
“You can never really expect to go undefeated, but we had just an extremely strong senior class that played a large part,” Galbiati said recently. “Coming in (as a true freshman), you don’t really know a lot of things about what to expect, but as we started playing we realized more and more that (going undefeated) was a possibility.
“That wasn’t the goal, but that was just icing on the cake.”
Knowing full well the difficulty of breaking into a lineup after a title-cliching campaign, Galbiati, who played high school ball for Boulder and also played for the Boulder Stars club team, had 37 at-bats her true freshman year for Tufts, settling in with a .297 average and 10 RBIs.
She also pitched a little bit, getting a start and her first collegiate win on April 19. For the season in the circle, she pitched 10 innings and held opponents to a .167 batting average.
There was a dry spell in early May where Galbiati did not see any game action, but that didn’t stop coach Cheryl Milligan from calling her name in one of the season’s most pressing moments.
On Memorial Day in the best-of-3 NCAA Championship Series against the University of Texas-Tyler, Galbiati was brought in as a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth with one out and her team trailing 2-1. Galbiati delivered a single to score two runs and get Tufts the lead, and they went on to plate six runs in the inning in what turned out to be a 7-4 Series win.
“It was one of those things where you work all year and really, since you were little for moments like that,” Galbiati said. “Those are the most challenging opportunities and I was excited that the coach had the confidence in me to put me into a situation like that. I love situations like that, and for that I was pretty comfortable. My coach believing in me made me believe in myself even more.”
There figures to be more innings in the circle to be had next season with the graduation of four-time All-American pitcher Allyson Fournier (35-0, 0.20 earned-run average). Galbiati will likely get a chance to start plenty more.
“The whole team is strong and competitive, and I am going to do everything I can over the summer and in the offseason to find a spot on the field,” Galbiati added. “Just work and hopefully the pieces fall into place.”
Adam Dunivan: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/AdamDunivan24