March 19, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State concludes tournament play against San Diego and San Jose State this weekend, playing each team twice at the home of the Toreros, the USD Softball Complex. The first game for The Beach is at 3 p.m. on Saturday, part of two on the day before a doubleheader Sunday to finish the bulk of non-conference play.
The 49ers previously played San Jose State this season, defeating the Spartans 3-1 at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton on March 7. Shayna Kimbrough and Cya Neal each had two hits to lead the offense, while Erin Jones-Wesley pitched a complete game with six strikeouts to lead The Beach to the win.
Long Beach State and San Diego are playing for the first time since the 2010 season -- The 49ers lead the all-time series between the Southern California schools 8-2.
Erin Jones-Wesley needs just five strikeouts to set the school's career strikeout mark, set by Meredith Cervenka from 2002-05 with 634.
Offensively, the team picked up right where they left off this season, hitting .324 overall and closing out six games in run-rule contests. Long Beach State is slugging .503 as a team, with 29 home runs and 37 doubles on the year. The team has also been balanced, with eight players hitting over .300.
Long Beach State ranks 19th nationally in slugging percentage, at .503, and leads the Big West in all three slash categories, hits, RBI, runs scored, and doubles on the season.
Ashley Holmes continues to lead the team offensively. The junior is leading the 49ers with a .405 batting average,and is slugging .703, second-best in the Big West. She also leads the 49ers with seven home runs, and has 21 RBI on the season.
As a team, the 49ers have hit 29 total home runs. Holmes leads the team with seven, but sophomore Darian Tautalafua has hit 6 after leading the team with 13 last year as a freshman, and Ashlynn Booker hit three two weeks ago, including a walkoff shot against Texas to also start the week with six home runs on the year.
WHAT'S THE SCORE
All games played at the 49er Softball Complex can be followed via Gametracker at www.longbeachstate.com, the home of Long Beach State athletics. Gametracker is also now viewable on all tablets and smartphones.
A scheduling note - due to the rainouts during the Louisville Slugger Invitational, Long Beach State and UCLA have agreed to play a double-header at Mayfair Park on Monday, April 21 at 4:30 p.m.
Long Beach State has a number of players looking at career marks during the 2014 season. Foremost among the offensive players is senior Hannah De Gaetano. Her .328 batting average is the best career mark in school history, and the infielder has hit over .300 in all three seasons with The Beach. De Gaetano is also within reach of the school's career Top 10 in hits, doubles, RBI, and walks, and she already ranks in the school's Top 10 in home runs.
Long Beach State currently has four of its top 10 home run hitters in program history on the squad in 2014. Along with De Gaetano, Ashley Holmes, Karli Sandoval and Darian Tautalafua are all in the school's Top 10, and are climbing fast. In particular, the career mark is well within reach of sophomore Darian Tautalafua, who ranks tied for fourth with Karli Sandoval. Additionally, with one more homer, senior Ashlynn Booker can join the group as well, tying Marcel Torres with 13 in her career.
Much of the 49ers success will depend on the right arm of senior Erin Jones-Wesley. Already one of the 49ers' most successful pitchers in school history, Jones-Wesley will look to continue to climb the record books while also attempting to win a second Big West Pitcher of the Year award, to match the honor she earned as a freshman in 2011. A three-time All-Big West selection, Jones-Wesley can become just the seventh 4-time first-team All-Big West pick and the second at Long Beach State.
Jones-Wesley also earned Big West Pitcher of the Week honors March 3 after pitching a complete game shutout in a 4-0 win against Nevada. Jones-Wesley allowed just 3 hits in seven innings, striking out five in one of her best starts of the season. In the process, Jones-Wesley also tied the career Big West Record with her 14th Pitcher of the Week award.
Big West records are also within reach for the senior. Her win over Syracuse, No. 68, entered her into the Top 10, while 645 strikeouts will make her the first 49er in the Top 10 in Ks in the conference.
Shayna Kimbrough's Big West Player of the Year season in 2013 was based in large part in a LBSU 2nd-place season batting average of .374 in 2013. The junior shortstop is hitting .389 in 2014, and leads the 49ers in both hits (35) and stolen bases (6) this year.
Kimbrough's stolen base total has also moved the junior into the Top 10 in school history, where she currently ranks eighth all-time. Kimbrough needs one more to tie Lauren Johnson for seventh all-time, and is halfway to the all-time career leader, current LBSU head coach Kim Sowder, who stole 50 bases as an All-American at Long Beach State.
Lauren Lombardi's grand slam on March 14 against Texas-Arlington was the first for Long Beach State since a walk-off grand slam by Ashley Holmes against Syracuse on February 24th of last season. Lombardi has had an excellent first year with the 49ers, tied for the team lead with five doubles, hitting .340 with three home runs, and a slugging percentage of .638 on the year.
THIS AND THAT
With the March 14 win over UT-Arlington, Sowder gained her 250th career victory at Long Beach State. She becomes the second coach to reach that mark at LBSU, and the 9th coach in conference history to pass that milestone as a member of the Big West.
Long Beach State reached 20 wins for the 31st straight season ... The 49ers have never had fewer than 24 wins under either Pete Manarino or Kim Sowder, and have never finished under .500 under Sowder in her seven seasons at the helm.
Announcements regarding additional ESPN3 broadcasts for softball games are upcoming, but could feature Long Beach State ... The 49ers will already be playing on national television for their rivalry series with Cal State Fullerton on ESPNU.
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