Sowder, Kimbrough Garner Top Honors As Big West All-Conference Teams Announced
May 13, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. - Junior Shayna Kimbrough was named the Big West Defensive Player of the Year, and was one of five 49ers selected as first-team All-Big West Conference, as announced by the conference on Tuesday. LBSU head coach Kim Sowder was also named Big West Coach of the Year for the second time after leading the 49ers to the Big West title.
Kimbrough finished the regular season with a .943 fielding percentage, and made just two errors at shortstop for Long Beach State in Big West Conference play, finishing with a .974 fielding percentage. The junior became the first Big West Defensive Player of the Year award winner in school history.
Kimbrough was also one of five 49ers selected as first-team All-Big West, leading the 49ers with a .394 batting average and 69 hits over the course of the regular season. It was the second first-team All-Big West nod for the junior. It was also the second first-team selection for second baseman Cya Neal, who is second on the squad with a .351 batting average, and is also leading The Beach with 11 stolen bases on the year. Senior Ashlynn Booker was a third offensive player to make the first team in 2014. Hitting .350 on the year, Booker's .750 slugging percentage is one of the highest in the country, and she has hit 10 doubles and 11 home runs on the season in 43 games played.
Long Beach State also saw both starting pitchers honored with first-team selections. For Erin Jones-Wesley, the honor made her just the fourth player in Big West history to garner four first-team All-Big West selections. The senior is second in the league with 182 strikeouts, and has posted a 19-9 record with a 3.08 ERA. She was joined on the first team by Amanda Hansen, who also had a 19-win regular season, posting a 3.16 ERA as well as three saves and five shutouts on the year.
The pair combined for 13 shutouts, five saves and 38 wins while leading The Beach to the postseason for the second time, pitching 325.2 out of 356.1 available innings for the 49ers in 2014.
Second-team honors went to three more 49ers. Catcher Karli Sandoval was placed on the second-team for the third season in a row, while Darian Tautalafua also earned her second Big West All-Conference honor, after placing on the first-team last season. Freshman Lauren Lombardi also earned second-team honors, as well as being placed on the inaugural All-Freshman team.
The remainder of the 49er starting lineup was recognized as honorable mention, highlighting a truly spectacular year from the LBSU lineup. Third baseman Hannah De Gaetano was selected as All-Big West for the fourth time, while Sarah Carrasco earned a second Honorable Mention selection and outfielder Leilani Tupua-Taualatasi was recognized for the first time.
The guiding force behind this talent was Kim Sowder, who led Long Beach State to its third Big West Conference championship in her tenure and was chosen as Big West Coach of the Year for the second time. Outright winners of the Big West with a 15-6 record, Sowder led the 49ers to a 38-17 overall mark and into the NCAA postseason for the 22nd time in school history.
The 2014 selections marked record-breaking recognition for the 49ers, as 11 total selections and five first-team selections were both the most in Long Beach State history.