The Long Beach State softball team couldn’t find its way past Ole Miss last weekend and was eliminated from the Tempe Regional on Saturday with a second loss to the Rebels.
The 49ers (43-14) had a rough start to their 24th NCAA postseason appearance with a 9-1 loss to Ole Miss on Friday. LBSU bounced back and staved off elimination by beating New Mexico State 9-0 in five innings on Saturday, but then fell to Ole Miss again in a 1-0 heartbreaking loss.
“This team played with everything it had,” LBSU coach Kim Sowder said. “Today is a lot like our season has been. They bounced back and fought. I’m so proud of this team.”
On Friday, LBSU scored first in the second inning by taking advantage of Ole Miss errors. Julia Lombardi reached on an error at third base, Tierra Falo looped a single to right field and Grayce Majam reached on an infield single to load the bases with one out. Wren hit a hot shot to third base, and the second error of the inning allowed Lombardi to score.
LBSU starting pitcher Cielo Meza lost control in the third inning and Ole Miss scored three times without a hit. Jessica Flores came on in relief for two scoreless innings before Ole Miss scored once in the sixth and five times in the seventh off of her and Devyn Magnett. Ole Miss freshman Abby Latham had two home runs.
The 49ers weren’t patient at the plate, and had only had five hits while going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Ole Miss starter Kaitlin Lee got eight of her first 15 outs with three pitches or less.
Flores pitched every inning for LBSU on Saturday. The senior allowed seven hits and one run in 13 innings. Flores struck out six in her 12th win of the season against New Mexico State, and held Ole Miss hitless through the first four innings.
LBSU scored eight runs in the first inning against New Mexico State to kick off the action on Saturday. Nichole Fry and Naomi Hernandez each had two hits at the top of the LBSU lineup. Fry and Wren both both had two RBIs. Falo reached three times after getting hit three times, the most in any game this season for a 49er.
In the nightcap, LBSU loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, but couldn’t break the scoreless tie. Ole Miss scored the only run of the game in the bottom half of the inning.
This year, LBSU set team records with 486 hits and 91 doubles. The 49ers also tied for the best ever batting average (.306) in program history.
The Dirtbags (26-28, 11-10) took the Big West series in Hawaii last weekend, but they were eliminated from NCAA postseason contention when Cal State Fullerton clinched the Big West Conference title on Sunday. LBSU had won eight of the last nine games, and seven straight on the road, before losing 4-1 on Sunday.
On Friday, the Dirtbags scored five runs before the first out was recorded on their way to a 7-2 win. Jarren Duran and Leonard Jones were the only players with two hits, and Jacob Hughey and Tristan Mercadel were the only players with two RBIs.
Starting pitcher Zak Baayoun allowed two runs on eight hits in seven innings to pick up his conference-leading ninth win of the season. Reliever Eli Villalobos worked two perfect innings to finish off the victory.
On Saturday, LBSU rode a stellar start from junior Clayton Andrews to a 8-0 win. The left-handed Andrews didn’t allow a hit until the top of the seventh inning while striking out seven. The junior two-way player lowered his team-leading ERA to 2.18, lowered his WHIP to 0.982 and was named the Big West Pitcher of the Week for the fourth time. He is the first Dirtbags pitcher to win the award in three consecutive weeks.
LBSU got more early offense for Andrews by scoring seven runs in the first four innings. Shaq Robinson had two RBIs with a double and a triple. Duran had three RBIs, and Brooks Stotler had an inside-the-park three-run home run. It was the first inside-the-park home run for a Dirtbag since Jeff Yamaguchi hit one on Apr. 7, 2013 at Pacific.
Track & Field
Fifteen LBSU athletes will be competing in 19 events at the NCAA West Preliminaries in Sacramento beginning on Thursday. Qualifiers will advance to the NCAA Championship on June 6-9 in Eugene, Ore.
Big West Field Athlete of the Year Jason Smith will compete in the high jump, long jump and triple jump. Smith took second place in both the high jump and long jump at the Big West Championships, and qualified for the triple jump with a season best.
Big West long jump champion Kemonie Briggs is at the West Regional for the third consecutive year. The junior jumped 26 feet to three-peat as Big West champion. Briggs is ranked No. 7 in the region.
Senior Sal Nasser and Blair Robinson are also competing in the long jump, and Robinson will also be in the triple jump. Josh Carr will compete in both the hammer throw and the discus. It is his second straight year qualifying for the discus. Nicholas Hudson will also compete in the hammer throw.
Kent Harris will compete in the 100m dash, and Daniel York-Mouton is in the 400m.
On the women’s side, Courtne’ Davis and Ashleigh Chambers will run the 100m and 200m. Davis was Big West champion in both events. Big West Champion Anaya Alexander will compete in the 400m, and Big West Freshman of the Year Shalee Reynolds is in the 400m hurdles. High jumper Bria Palmer is returning to the NCAAs for the second straight year.
LBSU record-holders Davis and Chambers will be joined by Azaria Hill and Madison Golden in the 4x100m relay.