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No. 20 Long Beach State Softball Starts Postseason At Tempe Regional

May 15, 2018

Long Beach, Calif. -

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• No. 20 Long Beach State softball readies for their 24th NCAA postseason appearance, taking part in the Tempe Regional hosted by No. 6 Arizona State, and opens the double-elimination regional at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 18 against Ole Miss in a game televised live on ESPN.

• Long Beach State enters the postseason with 42 wins, the sixth-most in program history, marking the ninth time the Beach has hit the 40-win plateau since the program’s first season in 1981. For her efforts, head coach Kim Sowder shared Big West Coach of the Year honors, the third time in her 12 seasons Sowder has won the award. Sowder enters the postseason needing two wins to reach 400 victories in her career, which would make her the fifth coach in conference history to reach the milestone as a member of the Big West.

• The Beach had two other players recognized with top honors, as Cielo Meza was chosen as the Big West Pitcher of the Year, while Naomi Hernandez earned Freshman Player of the Year honors. Both players also merited First-Team All-Big West selection, as did Nichole Fry and Taylor Rowland, while Jessica Flores, Devyn Magnett, Lauren MacLeod and Grayce Majam all earned Honorable Mention.

• Eye-popping offensive numbers have been a hallmark for LBSU this season. Entering the postseason, the 49ers are hitting a school record .308 as a team, 25th in the nation, and also rank 53rd in slugging percentage at .451 among the 296 teams in Division I.

• The offensive success for Long Beach State has seen the team already set one record with 89 doubles as a team, and the 49ers are in line to set more team records in a number of categories, including hit by pitch, sacrifice flies, a more.

• For the first time in school history, Long Beach State has three pitchers that have all recorded ten wins, as the staff of Cielo Meza, Jessica Flores and Devyn Magnett has combined for a 2.27 team ERA, 33rd in the country and best in the Big West.

• The Beach has also done it with defense - the team has turned 24 double plays this season and ranks 20th in the nation with a .975 fielding percentage.

• The team’s depth has been showcased in the weekly Big West Conference awards throughout the season, as six different players have been honored this season. Naomi Hernandez, Nichole Fry, Taylor Rowland and Julia Lombardi were all named Player of the Week, while Cielo Meza and Jessica Flores both earned Pitcher of the Week during the 2018 campaign.

• Despite bringing in 10 newcomers, the Beach is very experienced entering the 2018 season, featuring 15 upperclassman in a mix of returners, Division I transfers and junior college additions.

• Sophomore Cielo Meza has been the anchor for the Long Beach State pitching staff, and had her best week of the year against Hawai’i, earning Big West Pitcher of the Week honors after setting a school record with 17 strikeouts in her first start, and then throwing her second no-hitter of the season in her second. Meza is now 22-4 on the year with a 1.48 ERA, and ranks 27th nationally with 217 strikeouts. The Big West Pitcher of the Year, Meza led the Big West in ERA, Wins and Strikeouts through the regular season.

Jessica Flores continues to play two ways, and is finding success in both. Hitting .268 with four doubles, four stolen bases and 12 RBI, the senior has also made 24 appearances in the circle, posting a 10-2 record with a 2.93 ERA and three saves. Flores earned Pitcher of the Week honors following the Cal Poly series after throwing her first career no-hitter, and took a hard-luck loss at UC Davis, pitching a career-high 11.0 innings in a 2-1 loss.

• Long Beach State has also had a fine season from sophomore Devyn Magnett. Magnett has played in important role in the circle so far for the Beach, going 10-6 with three saves over 90.1 innings pitched while providing another steady option in the circle.

Nichole Fry and Naomi Hernandez are already 1-2 in the record books at the Beach in runs scored this season, battling it out for who will own the record at the end of the year. The pair also both entered the Top 10 in single-season hits at LBSU. Further down the lineup, Taylor Rowland has been cashing those runs in, and now holds the single-season record at the Beach with 58 RBI, and is one away from tying the Big West record in that category.

Naomi Hernandez had a hot start to the season and hasn’t let up in her first season of collegiate softball. Hernandez is leading the team and the Big West with a .388 batting average, has 23 walks, and ranks 32nd nationally with 71 hits in 2018. Additionally, she was named to the 25-player NFCA Freshman of the Year Watch List, and is the third player in school history to be named the Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year.

• Hernandez matched the school record held by Associate Head Coach Panita Thanatharn in game one against Loyola Marymount, going 5-for-5 to become just the second 49er to have five hits in one game.

Nichole Fry continues to lead the team as a junior shortstop. Her 70 hits are the second-most in the league, just behind Hernandez, and the junior is hitting .372 and reaching base at a .440 rate. Her 51 runs scored this season are a Long Beach State record, and her 15-game hitting streak earlier this season is the fourth-longest in school history.

Taylor Rowland has delivered in the middle of the lineup for Long Beach State in her first season at the Beach. Rowland is hitting .358, third on the team, and ranks 17th in the country with 58 RBI on the year. Her 12 home runs lead the team, and she is slugging .642 on the season, best on the team.

• A two-year starter at second base for Ole Miss, Grayce Majam returned to her native California for her final season of college softball, and settled in quickly at Long Beach State. Majam has started all 54 games for the Beach and is hitting .293 with nine doubles and a pair of home runs.

• Long Beach State’s third Division I transfer, Jamie Wren is hitting .269 with eight doubles, six stolen bases and 21 RBI while playing in every game this season.

• Senior LT Torres made a position switch in 2018, moving to third base after starting for three years of starting at second base. The switch hasn’t been an issue however, as Torres is hitting .243 with 15 RBI and just four errors in 54 starts in 2018.

• Senior Julia Lombardi has had a tremendous senior campaign for the Beach, hitting .322 with 19 RBI in 39 starts this season. Her RBI totals have moved her into the Top 10 in school history in the category.

• Behind the dish, Long Beach State will has once again relied on senior Lauren MacLeod, who started 47 of the team’s 52 games one season ago. MacLeod is hitting .250 with three home runs and leads the team with 32 walks, reaching base at a .462 clip.

• Junior Tierra Falo had a strong start to the season. Earning All-Tournament Team honors in Puerto Vallarta, Falo has three home runs and has 25 RBI on the year.



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