April 29, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State continues to hold first place in the Big West with two series remaining in the regular season. Two key series remain, however, beginning with the final home series of the year against Cal Poly, starting with a doubleheader Saturday. The series with the Mustangs will then finish on Sunday, May 4.
Sunday also marks Senior Day for Long Beach State -- The 49ers will recognize seven departing seniors for their unbelievable contributions to the program: Erin Jones-Wesley, Hannah De Gaetano, Cya Neal, Karli Sandoval, Ashlynn Booker, Sarah Carrasco, and Loni Tyler.
The Beach leads the all-time series with Cal Poly 40-19, and has won five of the last six games with the Mustangs. Cal Poly is on the current winning streak, taking last season's finale in San Luis Obispo 2-0.
Cal Poly, in third place, 4 games back of The Beach, is led by freshman pitcher Sierra Hyland, who leads the Big West in ERA (1.73), innings pitched (230.0) and strikeouts (241).
Offensively, LBSU picked up right where they left off from last season's record breaking campaign, hitting .316 overall and closing out 11 games in run-rule contests. Long Beach State is slugging .487 as a team, with 46 home runs and 65 doubles on the year. The team has also been balanced, with seven players hitting over .300.
Long Beach State leads the Big West in nearly every offensive category in 2014. Through April 20, The Beach is first in batting average (.319), OBP (.394), runs (253), hits (380), RBI (227), doubles (61) and triples (11).
Shayna Kimbrough was named the Big West Player of the Year in 2013, and is topping her numbers in 2014. The junior shortstop is hitting .395 in 2014, and has 60 hits and seven stolen bases on the year while leading the 49ers in on-base percentage at .465. Her numbers are even better in Big West competition, where she's is hitting .400 and reaching base at a .474 pace.
Cya Neal is also sharing the offensive load at the top of the order. The senior is hitting .411 in Big West conference play, and is hitting .366 on the season, second on the team. Neal also 60 hits, has hit a team-high four triples, and leads the 49ers with 10 stolen bases. Neal also has just seven strikeouts in a team-high 164 at-bats, which ranks among the nation's best.
Senior Ashlynn Booker has been an important part of Long Beach State's recent surge. Booker is leading the team with a .419 batting average in Big West play, and is slugging .810 on the year, with 10 home runs in 84 at-bats. Booker is also the reigning Big West Player of the Week after setting an LBSU record with 7 RBI in one game Sunday against CSUN.
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.
Long Beach State currently has five of its top 10 home run hitters in program history on the squad in 2014. Hannah De Gaetano Ashley Holmes, Karli Sandoval, Darian Tautalafua and Ashlynn Booker 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 second, just ahead of senior Karli Sandoval.
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.
Against Hawai'i, LBSU also passed 30 wins. Under Sowder, Long Beach State has hit 30 wins now in five of her eight seasons, and now 25 times in the program's 34 years.
Long Beach State had nine games on ESPN networks this season, as ESPNU showed the first game of Long Beach State's doubleheader with Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, April 16, and then ESPN3 carried 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 were previously shown on ESPN3.
The Beach currently sits at No. 38 in this week's latest RPI, released on Monday. That mark places Long Beach State firmly in the at-large conversation. Long Beach State has six games remaining, with Cal Poly sitting at No. 81, while UCSB is at No. 68.
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