Long Beach State

Long Beach State Softball Comes Back In Tourney Finale


Naomi Hernandez tied the game at 5-5 with a three-run home run, and then Taylor Rowland’s grand slam did the rest as Long Beach State rallied to defeat Loyola Marymount on the road 9-6.

Loyola Marymount (15-17-1) scored first, but the Beach limited the damage with some excellent defense. Two  singles put a pair of Lions on with one out, and then a Sabrina Tebou double brought home one run and put two in scoring position. A hard hit grounder to Nichole Fry led to an out at first, and then Julia Lombardi threw out Molly Grumbo at the plate, aggressively trying to score on the play.

Long Beach State (24-7) bounced back to tie the game on a solo home run from Grayce Majam, her second of the weekend, but the Lions once again had an answer. After a leadoff single and a walk, Maddison Flores brought in the go-ahead run, and the Lions added one more on a groundout to take a 3-1 lead.

The third inning proceeded similarly, as Naomi Hernandez doubled and scored to cut into the Lions lead, but Loyola Marymount had four hits, scoring two more runs to give the hosts at 5-2 edge.

The Beach would take back the momentum with another home run however. Rachel Loera and Fry got a two-out rally going with two singles, and Hernandez cracked her second home run of the season, a three-run shot to tie the game at 5-5 on one swing.

LMU threatened in the bottom half of the fourth, but the tide had turned in favor of the Beach, and Jessica Flores struck out Shianne Ybarra to leave the Lions with a goose egg in the inning.

With the top of the order up in the sixth, Long Beach State took the lead for good. Fry, Hernandez and MacLeod all reached to load the bases for Rowland, who capped a fantastic weekend with her biggest hit of them all, a grand slam off of the batting cages in right field to give the Beach a 9-5 lead.

Cielo Meza, who had retired the Lions in order in the sixth, gave up a single run in the sixth inning but worked out of a jam in the bottom of the seventh to hold on for the win. The Lions loaded the bases with one out, but on a deep fly to right field, Hernandez threw out Alicia Brown on the fly to end the game.

Long Beach State returns to Los Angeles next Saturday for two more games, as the teams will play a doubleheader hosted by LMU beginning at 1 p.m. on March 24.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.