Meza earned top honors for the second consecutive season.
The targeted gift from the Leafstedts will be matched by the University.
Darian Tautalafua's three-run home run is the difference in a 5-4 victory.
Beach head coach Kim Sowder named Big West Coach of the year for the second time.
Amanda Hansen allowed three runs over a career-long 8.2 innings pitched.
Last season, Long Beach State finished in a tie for the Big West runners-up, led by Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year Cielo Meza, despite losing two players for the season in Summer Pohl and Lauren Lombardi. Over the course of the season, Sowder also moved into fifth place in Big West conference history with her 356 total career wins.
In 2016, Sowder led the program to its 23rd NCAA Regional appearance, earning an at-large bid with an overall record of 33-22. First-team All-Big West selections Darian Tautalafua and Christina Clermont led the team on the year, as Tautalafua finished her career with school records in home runs, RBI, runs scored and walks while putting together a tremendous season.
In 2015, Sowder reached 300 wins, becoming just the eighth coach in Big West history to reach that milestone, and is the only current coach in the Big West to win that many games as a member of the conference. Overall, Sowder has compiled a 356-245-1 (.593) record, including a 152-79 (.658) record in Big West Conference games.
In addition to six trips to the NCAA Tournament, she has led the Beach to a trio of Big West Conference championships in 2008, 2012 and 2014. Long Beach State has had 72 players receive all-conference honors over the last 11 years under Sowder.
Under Sowder, offensive team records have become the norm. The 2014 squad became the first to finish a season batting over .300 at .306, and also set new records in scoring (318 runs), RBI (237) and doubles (74) while finishing just behind 2013's record home run mark of 53.
Sowder earned Big West Coach of the Year honors in 2014 as Long Beach State outlasted UC Santa Barbara in a thrilling extra-inning victory to clinch a third Big West championship with Sowder at the helm.
Behind Sowder's leadership in 2012, the 49ers rallied from a slow start to win the Big West Conference title and an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. LBSU won 20 of its final 26 regular-season games, including a 16-5 Big West Conference record, to clinch the program's 21st NCAA Tournament berth.
In 2011, Sowder blended a core group of returning players with a talented group of freshmen into a Big West Conference title contender. The 49ers finished the season with a 38-18 record, including a 15-6 conference mark that allowed the 49ers to finish in second place, one game behind conference champion Pacific. The 49ers' season, which included wins over four nationally-ranked teams, (No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 21 Baylor, No. 23 Fresno State, and No. 23 Houston) ended with the school's 20th trip to the NCAA Tournament. The 49ers opened the tournament with a win over San Diego State in the first round before dropping a pair of games, one to eventual national-champion Arizona State.
Sowder saw her squad make its second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2009. Long Beach State finished the season with a 35-21 record, marking its eighth consecutive winning season. Eight players were named to the all-conference team, while Jennifer Griffin was tabbed the Big West Field Player of the Year and Taylor Petty earned co-Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors.
In 2008, Sowder led LBSU to its sixth Big West Conference title and a NCAA Regional appearance. The 49ers reached the 40-win mark for just the eighth time in school history, finishing with a 40-17 record. LBSU was ranked 22nd and 23rd in the final USA Softball and NFCA polls, respectively. Sowder, who was tabbed the co-Big West Coach of the Year, also saw eight of her players earn all-conference recognition. In addition, freshman Brooke Turner, picked up All-America and All-West Region honors after being named the BWC Pitcher of the Year.
Along with on-field accomplishments, the 49ers have also earned a number of accolades off the field, and are regularly honored with Academic All-Conference achievements.
As the former Kim Kostyk, Sowder was a speedy, slick-fielding shortstop in her four years (1989-92) at LBSU. A 1991 third-team All-American, she helped the 49ers to three (1990-92) of their five trips to the NCAA Women's College World Series. She also earned second-team All-Big West honors as a junior in 1991 and was a Big West honorable-mention pick in 1992.
The school's all-time stolen base leader (50), Sowder's 19 thefts in 1991 still ranks as the 49ers' single-season high. She also ranks in the top 10 in career at-bats (860), runs (96), hits (204) and sacrifices (52). Defensively, she holds three of the top four 49er single-season assist marks with 243 in 1992, 233 in 1990, and 214 in 1991.
Sowder earned her undergraduate degree in marketing in 1993. She then went into the coaching ranks, serving two years as an assistant coach at Pacific.
A product of Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights, she resides with her husband, Shawn, and their two children, Zachary and Jacob, in Yorba Linda.
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