The562’s coverage of Long Beach State athletics for the 2022-23 season is sponsored by Marilyn Bohl.
After a dramatic Big West Championship sweep of rival Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State softball had its season ended in heartbreaking fashion with a pair of one-run losses at the NCAA Regionals.
The Beach lost 1-0 to host No. 6 Stanford on Friday night, and then were edged by Loyola Marymount 2-1 in the second game of the double-elimination weekend.
Pitcher Shannon Haddad only gave up three hits and no walks against Stanford, but they got two consecutive hits in the sixth inning to win. On Saturday, LBSU could only muster one run with seven hits while LMU scored twice in the sixth inning to win. Makayla Medellin delivered the only RBI of the tournament for LBSU.
TRACK & FIELD
Long Beach State track and field has 17 student-athletes and their 19 different qualifying marks headed to the NCAA West Regionals at Sacramento State this week. The competition started on Wednesday and will conclude on Saturday, and the 17 qualifiers is the most for LBSU since 2017.
The LBSU women are coming off of their second consecutive Big West Championship, and back-to-back Big West Women’s Track Athlete of the Year Ryley Fick will lead their six representatives. She will compete in her second NCAA 3000m steeplechase while also racing in the 800m this week.
The Beach will also have Big West Freshman of the Year Alex Heerink-van Breda in the 400m hurdles while Rahni Turner and Hailey Fune will compete in the 100m hurdles. Senior team captain Kaitlyn Williams will run the 100m dash in her second NCAAs appearance. The only field competitor will be Rori Denness-Lamont in the javelin.
There will also be 10 representatives from the LBSU men’s team in action led by dual-qualifier and Field Athlete of the Year Sebastian Coleman. The senior captain is in his third NCAAs hammer event and second discus event. Pablo Gamez will be with him in hammer, and TJ Wiggins in discus.
There have been at least three LBSU jumpers at West Regionals for 15 straight years as Novye James and Elijah Harris appear in the triple jump while Cyprus Rice competes in the pole vault.
Kash Powell and Mohammed Mohamed are in the 800m race as Mohamed makes his second consecutive West Regional appearance.
Freshman Tristyn Flores and junior Mekhi Mays will sprint in the 100m dash and 200m dash, respectively.
The arduous 2023 regular season is coming to an end for the Long Beach State Dirtbags this weekend on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field. They will host UC Davis on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All of the games are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
LBSU (30-22, 14-13) is currently seventh in the Big West Conference standings after winning two of three games at rival Cal State Fullerton last weekend.
On Friday, defending national pitcher of the week Nico Zeglin delivered his ninth quality start of the year and sophomore Cole Santander delivered the game-winning hits late in a 2-1 win. On Saturday, the Dirtbags scored early and often in a 7-4 victory. Junior Jonathon Long also hit his 24th home run which is the second-most in program history.
In other awards news, catcher Connor Burns was named one of the 13 semifinalists for the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year award.
Burns is the reigning Big West Defensive Player of the Year, and this year he’s posted a .991 fielding percentage while throwing out 50% of would-be base stealers. He was also a 2022 Gold Glove finalist.
The huge improvement for Burns has come with the bat in his hands. The junior is currently hitting .303 with a .957 OPS and a team-high .585 slugging percentage. Burns also ranks second with 13 doubles, 12 home runs, and 43 RBI.
Three finalists for the catchers honor will be announced June 6, and the final vote takes place during the College World Series.
Two Long Beach State beach volleyball duos were honored with AVCA’s Top Flight Awards as Malia Gementera and Taylor Hagenah earned it for both flights two and three while Natalie Glenn and Maggie Walters earned it in flight five.
Gementera and Hagenah, who are also the Big West Co-Freshman of the Year, had a historic year going 12-6 in flight three, 16-1 in flight two, and the all-time record holders for single-season individual and pairs victories as the only athletes to surpass the 30-win mark.