First-place 49ers visit Cal State Fullerton Saturday and Sunday
May 1, 2012
TELEVISION: ESPNU will broadcast both games of Saturday's doubleheader. Mark Neely handles play-by-play duties while Garland Cooper provides color commentary.
49ERS ENTER SERIES AGAINST CAL STATE FULLERTON IN FIRST PLACE TIE: Long Beach State heads into the final two weeks of the Big West Conference season in a tie for first place. The 49ers meet Cal State Fullerton in a three-game set this weekend before wrapping up the season against Pacific on May 11-12. The Tigers, who host third-place UC Davis this weekend, and the 49ers are both 11-4 in Big West play.
Long Beach State takes a pitching advantage into the weekend behind the arms of senior Taylor Petty and sophomore Erin Jones-Wesley. The 49ers have a 2.60 team ERA on the season with Petty boasting a 1.20 ERA and Jones-Wesley following close behind with a 2.04 ERA. In league games, the two have combined for a team ERA of 1.10 with Jones-Wesley putting up a 1.02 ERA and Petty a 1.20 ERA. The Titans have a 5.19 ERA on the season and a 3.54 ERA in league games.
Offensively, LBSU is hitting .268 for the season and .273 in Big West Conference games. CSF counters with a .287 season batting average, including an impressive .296 in league games. Cya Neal leads LBSU in hitting with a .343 average, while Hannah De Gaetano is batting .319 with five home runs.
TRACKING THE OTHER CONTENDERS: While Long Beach State and Pacific are tied for first place, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara both could factor into the battle for the Big West's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. UC Davis sits just one game behind the league leaders and has a chance to make a move this weekend with three games at Pacific. Davis wraps up the season next week at Cal State Fullerton. UCSB sits two games behind the leaders (but won two of three from both LBSU and UOP) and hosts Cal Poly this weekend before traveling to Cal State Northridge next week.
JONES-WESLEY NAMED BIG WEST CONFERENCE PITCHER OF THE WEEK FOUR TIMES THIS SEASON, 10 TIMES DURING CAREER: Sophomore Erin Jones-Wesley has been named the Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week four times this season, including this week, running her career total to 10 weekly awards. Jones-Wesley claimed the honor this week after throwing a pair of complete game two-hit shutouts against UC Riverside last weekend. The 49er sophomore beat UCR 1-0 and 6-0. Earlier this season, she claimed back-to-back awards on Feb. 13 and Feb. 20 before winning the award for a third time on March 19. The reigning Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year claimed six weekly honors in 14 weeks last season. She heads into this weekend's series against Cal State Fullerton with 17 wins and a 2.04 ERA.
PETTY RETURNS FOR CONFERENCE PLAY: Long Beach State's improved play in Big West action can be attributed to the return of senior pitcher Taylor Petty. The 49er pitcher missed the first two months of the season with pneumonia and a resulting rib injury. She returned for conference play on March 31 and has put together a 6-1 record with a 1.20 ERA in 46.2 innings pitched. She has complete game wins at UCSB (3-0), vs. Cal Poly (4-1), at Cal State Northridge (4-3), and vs. UC Riverside (10-4), while pitching into the seventh inning in a 4-1 win at UC Davis.
NEAL LEADS LBSU IN HITTING; FIFTH IN BIG WEST: Junior college transfer Cya Neal heads into the Cal State Fullerton series with a team-best .343 batting average. The 49er second baseman is 46-for-134 with 17 runs scored. She ranks fifth in the Big West in batting average, while sitting sixth in hits.
Neal started her Long Beach State career with a four-game hitting streak in the Las Vegas Tournament, including a pair of two-hit games in her first two games. Overall she has 13 multi-hit games including three 3-hit games against Maine, Nevada and Cal State Northridge.
STEPHAN REGAINING FORM FROM FRESHMAN SEASON: Junior Bree Stephan, who has been battling injuries for the last two seasons, had her best weekend since her freshman season against Cal State Northridge two weeks ago and continued her strong play against UC Riverside last weekend. The 2010 second-team All-Big West pick came off the bench in game one at CSUN and went 2-for-3 with a run scored in the 49ers' 4-3 win. Her effort earned her a spot in the starting lineup in games two and three of that series, and she responded going 2-for-3 and 1-for-3 in the two games, with a bases-loaded two-RBI ground-rule double in the final game. Against Northridge, she hit .556 (5-for-9) with two runs scored and two RBI. She continued to play well in the UCR series going 2-for-3 with a RBI and run scored in the first game. Stephan leads LBSU in hitting in league games with a .412 average.
DE GAETANO AND TUPUA-TAUTALATASI WIN BIG WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARDS: Sophomore Hannah De Gaetano and freshman Leilani Tupua-Tautalatasi have both been named Big West Conference Players of the Week this season.
Tupua-Taulatasi won the award after her first five career games during which she batted .368 with a home run and two RBI, while finishing with a .632 slugging percentage. She went 7-for-19 at the plate with a home run, a triple, and two RBI.
De Gaetano claimed the honor after batting .500 with two home runs and five RBI at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas during the season's second weekend. The sophomore had multiple hits in three of LBSU's games in the tournament including three vs. Indiana and two against both Texas Tech and Memphis. She also had a pair of RBI against both Indiana and Ohio State.
KIMBROUGH AMONG NATIONS TOUGHEST TO STRIKE OUT: Freshman Shayna Kimbrough ranks 28th in the nation as the toughest hitter to strike out. She fans only once ever 24.2 at bats, striking out just six times (0 in Big West play) this season.