No. 21 Long Beach State Begins Busy Week At Home Against No. 12 Baylor
The Beach will face the Bears before co-hosting the Louisville Slugger Invitational.
Long Beach, Calif. -
• Long Beach State returns home, with Tuesday marking the home opener against Baylor before the Beach co-hosts the Louisville Slugger Invitational from March 8-11 at the LBSU Softball Complex. The tournament starts Thursday against Michigan State for the Beach, and concludes Sunday against UCLA.
• Eye-popping offensive numbers mark the first part of the season for Long Beach State. Starting the week the 49ers are hitting .319 as a team, 26th in the nation, and also rank 28th in on-base percentage at .419.
• The Beach has also done it with defense - no player has more than two errors on the season and Long Beach State ranks 13th in the nation with a .980 fielding percentage.
• Sophomore Cielo Meza had her best week yet, and has been the anchor for the Long Beach State pitching staff. Throwing a no-hitter against No. 21 Minnesota, last year’s Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year is 9-0 with a 1.31 ERA, and ranks ninth nationally with 94 strikeouts.
• Meza struck out 85 batters in 67.2 innings pitched before missing the second half of the 2016 season with injury, and her recovery stretched through the first 30 games of 2017. Once back in action, Meza finished the 2017 with a 1.26 ERA, 20th best in the nation one year ago.
• Individually, freshman Naomi Hernandez and Nichole Fry have led the offense, winning Back-to-back Big West Player of the Week award to start the season, Hernandez still ranks in the Top 100 nationally with a .435 batting average, and has an on-base percentage of .494, reaching base in 15 straight games to start the season. Fry is third in the Big West in slugging percentage at .658, and has 29 hits on the season, batting .397.
• Despite bringing in 10 newcomers, the Beach is very experienced entering the 2018 season, featuring 15 upperclassman in a mix of returners, Division I transfers and junior college additions. Grayce Majam of Ole Miss joins seven returners in the senior class, while four returning juniors are joined by two junior college products and Ohio transfer Jamie Wren.
• Junior Tierra Falo has also had a strong start to the season. Earning All-Tournament Team honors in Puerto Vallerta, Falo has three home runs and leads the team with 17 RBI.
• Taylor Rowland tied a pair of school records in the record win against Buffalo, hitting a pair of home runs and finishing with 7 RBI, tying the school record set by Ashlynn Booker in 2014. Rowland, a sophomore transfer from Tennessee is batting .314 and is tied for the team lead with three home runs.
• Jessica Flores continues to play two ways, and is finding success in both. Hitting .302 with three doubles and 10 RBI, the senior has also made eight appearances in the circle, throwing 27.1 innings including a complete game shutout against Santa Clara.
• Along with Meza and Flores, Long Beach State returns one other pitcher in sophomore Devyn Magnett, Magnett has played in important role in the circle so far for the Beach, going 5-3 over 38.0 innings pitched while providing another steady option in the circle.
• A two-year starter at second base for Ole Miss, Grayce Majam is returning to her native California for her final season of college softball, and has settled in quickly at Long Beach State. Majam has started all 20 games for the Beach and is hitting .350 with three doubles, third-best on the team.
• Long Beach State’s third Division I transfer, Jamie Wren, had the best week of her season in Palm Springs and is now hitting .316, fourth on the team, and has a pair of stolen bases to go along with 9 RBI on the year.
• Behind the dish, Long Beach State will once again rely on senior Lauren MacLeod, who started 47 of the team’s 52 games one season ago. Freshman Justine Briones has also helped shoulder the load, starting eight games this season while hitting .261.
• LT Torres made a position switch in 2018, moving to third base after starting for three years at second base, but has returned to form, hitting .288 with 10 RBI and just two errors in 20 starts in 2018.
• A trio of returning players will help Long Beach State capitalize on baserunners, with senior Rachel Loera, sophomore Andrea Guzman and redshirt freshman Taylor Tiger providing additional speed from the bench for the Beach.
• Two junior college All-Americans will bolster the depth for the team as well. Kasey Hutton patrolled the outfield last season at Santa Ana CC, finishing with 51 stolen bases while hitting .481 on the year. She’ll challenge for immediate time in the outfield, while Taylor Jaurique will give the Beach another option at catcher. Jaurique starred for Mt. SAC, hitting .465 with 51 RBI and 14 home runs one year ago.
• Lauren Lombardi, who ranks in Long Beach State’s career top ten in both home runs and RBI will likely miss the entire season, still recovering from a season-ending knee injury sustained in 2017.
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