May 14, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
It's playoff time as Long Beach State enters the first round of the postseason, traveling to UCLA for the Los Angeles Regional. The 49ers open play against No. 20 Notre Dame at 3 p.m. on Friday, and will also compete in the double-elimination round with the hosts, No. 2 UCLA, as well as Southern Utah.
The 49ers are making their 22nd NCAA appearance, 7th-most among the field, tied with Michigan and Nebraska. UCLA has the most, with 31, while Arizona, Florida State, Arizona State, Texas A&M and Louisiana-Lafayette round out the school's with more.
Long Beach State has played all three other teams in the regional before - Notre Dame holds a slim 4-3 margin in meetings between the teams, while Long Beach State is 6-0 all-time against Southern Utah. UCLA holds a 69-9 lead in the series record between the two local rivals, taking both sides of a doubleheader in the 2014 meeting between the schools, though the 49ers held three leads, including in the seventh inning, before falling 10-6.
Offensively, LBSU picked up right where they left off from last season's record breaking campaign, hitting .310 overall and closing out 11 games in run-rule contests. Long Beach State is slugging .475 as a team, with 51 home runs and 71 doubles on the year. The team has also been balanced, with seven players hitting over .300.
Shayna Kimbrough earned a top honor from the conference, as the 49er shortstop was named the Big West Defensive Player of the Year, one year following a Big West Player of the Year honor. With just two errors in conference play at shortstop, the team's leading hitter at .394 also earned First-Team All-Big West honors.
Kimbrough was one of five Beach players to be named First-Team All-Conference. The junior SS was joined by seniors Cya Neal and Ashlynn Booker on the offensive side, while both of Long Beach State's starting pitchers, Erin Jones-Wesley and Amanda Hansen were also recognized for the first team. The five first-team All-Conference members was the most in LBSU history.
In all, Long Beach State had 11 players make All-Big West teams, as the entire lineup, 1-9, was selected as well as both pitchers.
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. All games at the Los Angeles Regional will also be carried live on ESPN3, with Tracy Moore on the call.
Long Beach State has a number of players looking at offensive career marks during the 2014 season. Hannah De Gaetano ranks in the LBSU Top 10 in five offensive categories, while Karli Sandoval stands 5th in career RBI and 4th in home runs. Additionally, De Gaetano and fellow senior Cya Neal are on track to finish with the top two carer batting averages in school history.
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.
Erin Jones-Wesley recorded a rare honor, becoming just the seventh player in Big West history to be named first-team All-Big West for four seasons after another outstanding season. With a record of 19-9 and 182 strikeouts in the regular season, Jones-Wesley was the top pitcher for the 49ers, and will end her career as one of the best ever to put on a Beach uniform.
On the strength of a one-hit shutout against Hawai'i, Jones-Wesley was named the Big West Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season. With the award, she broke the conference record for the most weekly accolades, garnering 15 over her career.
The senior now owns two of the most prestigious records in school history, setting the career wins mark to go along with the career strikeouts mark that she already holds. Jones-Wesley currently holds both marks with 83 wins and 721 strikeouts in her career.
The senior also ranks among the Big West all-time greats as well. Jones-Wesley currently ranks 3rd in appearances (145), 4th in wins (83), and 5th in strikeouts (721), holding all three LBSU records.
Jones-Wesley has more strikeouts (721) in her career than hits allowed (660).
Long Beach State's pitchers have had great run support in 2014 - The Beach is now 22-0 in games where the opposing team has scored fewer than two runs.
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 hit two home runs last weekend, each moving Long Beach State into the lead against UC Santa Barbara, as the freshman earned Big West Player of the Week honors. Lombardi becomes the fifth different LBSU player to earn Big West POW honors, joining Ashley Holmes, Karli Sandoval (Reached in every plate appearance against UCR), Ashlynn Booker (School Record 7 RBI in one game), and Leilani Tupua-Tautalatasi (6 RBI in comeback win against Fullerton).
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.
Sowder was named the Big West Coach of the Year for the second time in her career after leading Long Beach State to a 38-17 overall record an the Big West Championship, the third under Sowder. The LBSU head coach, in her eighth season, previously was the Big West Coach of the Year after winning the conference crown in 2008, and also won the conference during the 2012 season.
Two more wins would lift the 2014 team to 40 wins - that would tie the 2008 team for the most wins in one season under Sowder, and would also be the 9th 40-win season in school history.
Long Beach State had nine games on ESPN networks during the regular 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 entirety of this weekend's Los Angeles Regional will also be shown on ESPN3.
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