The Long Beach State softball team has gone toe-to-toe with the best teams in the country this season, and last week was no different at their own Louisville Slugger Invitational hosted at the LBSU Softball Complex. No. 21 LBSU (19-7) won three of five games, and narrowly lost to No. 3 UCLA on Sunday 6-5 in front of a capacity crowd.
“We definitely feel like we can compete with anybody in the country,” LBSU coach Kim Sowder said. “We’ve built confidence throughout the season and been consistent with it.”
LBSU opened the invitational with a pair of wins on Thursday. The 49ers got clutch pitching from Devyn Magnett and Jessica Flores in a 4-2 win over Michigan State in the morning. Right fielder Julia Lombardi drove in two runs and scored in the win. In the second game against Boston, LBSU sophomore pitcher Cielo Meza struck out nine batters in eight innings, and junior Nichole Fry delivered the game-winning walk off hit to beat Boston 1-0.
The 49ers lost to San Jose State on Friday, 7-3, and bounced back to beat San Diego State 5-0 in a rain-shortened game on Saturday before facing No. 3 UCLA on Sunday.
LBSU led early against UCLA, but couldn’t hold on in a 6-5 loss. The 49ers got on the board in the first inning when sophomore Taylor Rowland drove in Fry with a single. Meza kept UCLA scoreless for three innings, but the Bruins (24-0) scored five times in the fourth inning to take the lead for good. Fry finished with three RBIs, but UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia (10-0) left the tying run on base to finish off her complete game.
“This year is special because we’ve got so many players in the dugout who can compete just as well as the players on the field,” Sowder said. “And they’ve all been unselfish and push each other to make each other better.”
The Dirtbags (5-11) had a rough weekend at No. 8 Texas A&M (16-1) after knocking off No. 10 Vanderbilt 4-3 last Wednesday at Blair Field.
LBSU didn’t have a hit in the first six innings of their game against Vanderbilt (10-4), but Dirtbags freshman catcher Chris Jimenez delivered a two-out, two-run single in the seventh to give his team the lead after they entered the inning trailing 3-1. He also threw out a pair of base runners.
“It wasn’t a very clean game and we took advantage of some free opportunities,” LBSU Coach Troy Buckley said. “Things can happen if you just stick around. When we play well, we’re in games.”
Closer Chris Rivera allowed a two-out single and a walk to put the pressure on in the ninth, but recorded a strikeout looking on a 3-2 pitch to earn his fourth save of the season.
The Dirtbags only scored one run in each of their three games at No. 8 Texas A&M over the weekend. They took the lead in the first game, and got a strong start from Clayton Andrews, but lost 3-1. Andrews struck out 10 batters in seven innings. LBSU was hammered 19-1 on Saturday, and couldn’t overcome a slow start on Sunday in a 5-1 defeat. The series ends a seven-game stretch against Top-10 SEC opponents.
Women’s Water Polo
The 49ers (8-9, 1-0) opened their Big West Conference schedule with a 6-5 win over UC Santa Barbara (12-9, 0-1) on Saturday. Tori Morrissey scored a hat trick for LBSU, while sophomore goalkeeper Eirini Patras made 11 saves. Morrissey’s third goal broke a tie at the end of the third quarter, and senior Raney Remme extended LBSU’s lead to 6-4 early in the fourth.
LBSU (8-23) lost to UC Riverside 79-66 in the first round of the Big West Conference Tournament at CSU Fullerton last Tuesday. Senior Cecily Wilson scored a team-high 22 points. LBSU was the No. 7 seed, and UCR was the No. 6 seed.
Freshman guard Shanaijah Davison scored 11 points for LBSU. It was her seventh consecutive double-figure scoring game, and her 20th of the year. Freshman center Emma Merriweather chipped in 10 points and four blocks. Freshman forward Naomi Hunt had a team-high six rebounds, while freshman guard Ma’Qhi Berry finished with a team-high six assists.
Wilson, Davison and Hunt all earned Big West Honorable Mention honors. Davison and Hunt were also named to the All-Freshman Team.
After beating No. 10 Arizona 3-2 last week, the No. 7 49ers (3-1) almost upset top-ranked Pepperdine in their home opener. LBSU lost its first two matches and had its comeback efforts fall short in a 3-2 loss to the Waves. Senior Sasha Karelov had 17 kills and a block to help lead herself and junior Anete Brinke to a 21-19, 15-21, 15-9 win in the No. 3 match. In the No. 5 match, senior Hannah Matt and freshman Marisa Ramsey also stayed undefeated in 2018 with a 22-20, 19-21, 15-11 win.
Track & Field
Both men’s and women’s teams completed the San Diego College Challenge and the Ben Brown Invitational on Saturday. LBSU picked up a combined four track and five field victories.
On the men’s track side, Daniel York-Mouton won the 800-meter (1:57.49). On the women’s track side, Azaria Hill won the 200-meter (25.08) and the 4×100 relay team of Hill, Courtne’ Davis, Madison Golden and Ashleigh Chambers won the event in a time of 46.23. Elijah McDonald was also an event winner in the 100-meter hurdles (14.21).
In men’s field action, Josh Carr was a double winner in the men’s hammer and discus throw. In the women’s hammer, Erykah McNairy led three LBSU throwers in the top five. In the women’s long jump, Melanee Williams took first (18-03), and teammate Allison Foster took second (18-02.25).
LBSU set a school record with a single round 282 at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational in Tucson last week, and ended up taking fourth in the 17-team event.
Junior Joe Fryer shot a 6-under par round of 67 last week to win the medalist honor and carry LBSU into a tie for first place at the Sacramento State Invitational. Fryer had six birdies, and this is his second career win.