April 2, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State returns to the 49er Softball Complex for the team's first home series in Big West action, hosting UC Riverside for three games. The 49ers open up against the Highlanders with a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m., followed by a Sunday matinee to close the series Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games will be shown live on ESPN3.
Long Beach State leads the all-time series with UCR 46-7, and has won six games in a row over the Highlanders, with sweeps in each of the last two seasons. The 49ers dropped the final game of the 2011 series in Riverside, snapping a seven-game winning streak prior to that point, as The Beach has won 13 of the last 14 against UC Riverside.
With a win against the Highlanders, senior Erin Jones-Wesley can set another major career milestone with Long Beach State. Already the school's career strikeouts leader, one additional victory will allow Jones-Wesley to set the LBSU wins record with 79.
Offensively, the team picked up right where they left off last season, hitting .314 overall and closing out seven games in run-rule contests. Long Beach State is slugging .477 as a team, with 31 home runs and 48 doubles on the year. The team has also been balanced, with seven players hitting over .300.
Long Beach State has dipped behind Hawai'i in slugging percentage, but still leads the Big West in most of the other offensive categories, including batting average (.314), on-base percentage (.388), runs scored (198) hits (298), RBI (175), and doubles (48).
As a team, the 49ers have hit 31 total home runs. Darian Tautalafua tied Ashley Holmes for the team lead with a solo shot last weekend, giving the sophomore seven home runs in the season after leading The Beach with 13 in 2013 as a freshman. Additionally, Ashlynn Booker hit three home runs in her last week of action for LBSU, and has hit six home runs in 23 games this season.
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 topping even that incredible number this season, hitting .400 in 2014, and has 42 hits and seven stolen bases on the year while leading the 49ers in on-base percentage at .475.
Cya Neal has come on of late - Hitting .371, second on the team, Neal leads the team with 43 hits, has a pair of triples, and leads the 49ers with 10 stolen bases. Neal also has just six strikeouts in a team-high 116 at-bats, which ranks among the nation's best.
WHAT'S THE SCORE
All remaining Long Beach State games can be followed through Gametracker on www.longbeachstate.com, the official livestats provider for The Beach. Gametracker is also now viewable on all tablets and smartphones.
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. In the process, Jones-Wesley also tied the career Big West Record with her 14th Pitcher of the Week award.
Jones-Wesley passed Meredith Cervenka for one of two major pitching records at Long Beach State in San Diego, setting the career strikeouts record, and enters this week with 654 total Ks in her career. Additionally, one more win will give her 79 in her career, setting another Long Beach State school record.
Big West records are also within reach for the senior. Her win over Syracuse, No. 68, entered her into the Top 10, where she currently ranks tied for 6th, while her 654 strikeouts ranks 10th in Big West history.
Ashley Holmes has had a big year for Long Beach State. The junior is third on the team with a .348 batting average, and is second in slugging at .498 on the season. She also is tied for the 49er lead with seven home runs, and has 23 RBI on the season.
Shayna Kimbrough's stolen base total has also moved the junior into the Top 10 in school history, where she currently is tied for seventh all-time. Kimbrough is over 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, hitting .309 with six double and a trio of home runs as a true freshman.
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.
Long Beach State will have nine games on ESPN networks this season, as ESPNU will show the first game of Long Beach State's doubleheader with Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, April 16, and ESPN3 has announced that they will carry the conclusion of that series. Additionally. Long Beach State's home series with UC Riverside on April 5-6 and Hawai'i on April 12-13 will also be shown on ESPN3 in their entirety.
The Beach, despite winning three games against UC Davis, dropped to No. 43 in the second RPI listed on the year from the NCAA. While that remains close to at-large consideration, Long Beach State will have additional opportunities to improve that number. Long Beach State still leads the conference, just in front of Cal State Fullerton at No. 44, and six Big West teams rate in the Top 100. Long Beach State also still has a doubleheader with No. 1 UCLA remaining, and the Bruins are No. 3 in the RPI this week.
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