Softball, Sports

Linke delivers heroics again for 49er softball

Box score

LAKEWOOD — For the second consecutive day, right fielder Danielle Linke came up with a big home run to propel the Long Beach State softball team to victory.

The leadoff hitter went 1-for-3 with the difference-making three-run blast to give the 49ers a 4-1 win over Wisconsin at Lisa Fernandez Field on Saturday night.

“It seems to be someone different every game,” head coach Kim Sowder said of the team’s six-game winning streak. “Linke came up with the clutch hit again.”

Designated player Brandy Reyes had the lone multi-hit performance for the ‘Niners, going 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the sixth.

“Brandy Reyes is starting to come along,” Sowder said.

Earlier in the day, LBSU blanked Brigham Young, 5-0, and the team remains perfect in the Mayfair Tournament. The ‘Niners defeated Iowa State, 6-5, the night before.

Sophomore starting pitcher Brooke Turner, who picked up the win Friday, kept the Badgers (5-11) off balance en route to a complete-game victory.

“A lot of it was off the plate and I mixed in my changeup,” Turner said.

Turner (6-3) allowed just one run on five hits over seven innings of work and struck out eight batters. Aside from a pair of walks, the only blemish on the right-hander’s night was a solo homer off the bat of Karla Powell in the top of the fourth to put Wisconsin ahead, 1-0.

The Badgers’ third baseman disrupted Turner’s rhythm, drilling a shot just beyond the left field fence as Ashley Weber crashed into and took down the fence.

“On the homer, I just missed a pitch,” Turner said.

The 49ers (10-7) responded in the bottom of the fifth, as shortstop Ashley Levine started the rally with a one-out, bloop single to center.

Badgers starter Letty Olivarez then struck out Jodi Nakawatase swinging but plunked Brianna Goad on a 2-0 pitch to set the stage for Linke. The senior crushed a hanging 2-0 offering to right-center to give LBSU a 3-1 lead.

“It feels good. Just not thinking is what helps,” said Linke, who hit her third homer of the year. “It was just a good pitch, she hung a riseball.

“To be honest, I saw the ball, liked it and swung.”

Turner was one of the first to greet her as she crossed home plate.

“It’s nice knowing if I miss a pitch, I’ll get picked up by my teammates,” Turner said. “[Linke] is a big leader for us.”

Olivarez (3-9) was tagged for four runs — all earned — on six hits while walking three and striking out one. The ‘Niners didn’t make it easy for the junior right-hander, fighting off pitches and recording a pair of 10-pitch at-bats to go with a nine-pitch at-bat.

“I think they’re trying to be a little more patient,” Sowder said. “It took a little while to get going.”

Griffin worked one of the 10-pitch appearances, drawing a walk to start the bottom of the fourth.

She advanced to second on a Kristen Pocock sacrifice bunt and took third on a heads-up move with nobody covering the base. A throw from first baseman Alexis Garcia skipped away and hit the dugout but Griffin was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Valyncia Raphael.

The senior gunned down another runner on a similar play at the plate in the fifth.

After Linke’s homer, Weber tripled over the head of center fielder Leah Vanevenhoven, who froze before charging back. Weber saw the throw skip away and dashed home but Raphael recorded her second outfield assist.

Vanevenhoven made the same mistake in the sixth, as Reyes laced an RBI double on the ninth pitch of the at-bat to score pinch-runner Megan Denio and cap the scoring.

The 49ers will return to action Saturday in a Mayfair Tournament rematch against Iowa State at 8:30 a.m. LBSU will close the tournament later in the day with a 3:15 p.m. contest against Fresno State.

“[We’re] slowly picking it up,” Turner said. “Shooting for the sweep this weekend.”

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