A pair of complete game shutouts from pitchers Cielo Meza and Jessica Flores helped No. 18 Long Beach State softball sweep the Big West doubleheader against UC Riverside on Saturday at the LBSU Softball Complex. The 49ers are on a 12-game winning streak, and conclude the series at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
LBSU (31-7, 5-0) scored early and often in the first game for a 6-0 victory behind Meza’s fourth consecutive shutout, and Nichole Fry hit a leadoff home run in the second game for the only offense in a 1-0 win behind Flores.
“Both of our pitchers did a great job,” LBSU coach Kim Sowder said. “We kind of thought going into they day that it might be a pitcher’s duel, so it was nice to get some early runs.”
Meza (17-2) extended her scoreless innings streak to 27 while allowing a pair of hits and striking out six. Last year, she tossed her first collegiate no-hitter against UCR after returning from injury.
“I leaned from last year, and I knew they were beatable, so I just went out there and pitched my game,” Meza said.
Taylor Rowland got LBSU on the board in the first inning with a single that scored Fry and Naomi Hernandez, and she belted her ninth home run of the season in the third inning to break the game open.
Fry hit her third leadoff home run of the season to start the second game.
“I was just trying to hit a line drive, but I let the ball get deep and just drilled it,” Fry said.
A game in two acts – @nicholeeey13 puts us on top, and @youknowflo closes out the shutout with the second double play of the game in a 1-0 win! #GoBeach https://t.co/m2LHXMatxK
Flores (7-1) pitched around three hits and four walks while striking out eight. She also started a pair of 1-6-3 double plays in the last three innings.
“Our pitching styles are completely different,” Flores said of her and Meza. “Her process is her rise ball. My pitches are my screw ball or my change up. We both had the game plan to go straight after them, but with different styles.”
Flores added that seeing Meza’s performance inspired her again.
“Cielo always pumps me up when she’s pitching,” Flores said. “I look up to her and try to do as good as she does because she’s always killing it.”