LAKEWOOD — The timely hitting that had propelled the 49er softball team to a nine-game winning streak vanished Friday night at Mayfair Park.
Florida International (11-11) stunned Long Beach State (13-8), 9-3, in a game where the ‘Niners stranded 11 runners and left the bases loaded to end the inning on three occasions.
“We missed on those opportunities and [FIU] took advantage of it,” 49er head coach Kim Sowder said.
Sophomore Brooke Turner (7-4) picked up the loss after pitching three innings to tally five strikeouts, seven hits, one walk and an earned run.
Senior Kelly Cross came in for relief and struck out two while giving up two earned runs.
“Brooke has a few things that she needs to work out, but she’ll be fine once she works those things out,” Sowder said. “She’s not sharp yet with a couple pitches, but she’ll find it.”
Sowder also said that the ‘Niner defense needs to do a better job of playing behind the right-hander.
Turner looked to be cruising after the offense handed her a 3-1 lead in the third, but a costly error with two outs gave the Panthers a lead that they never relinquished.
“We made mistakes defensively,” Sowder said. “We’re a little frustrated right now, but we’ve got to find a way to get it going tomorrow [against Iowa.]”
FIU designated player Jenny Welch reached first when LBSU second baseman Jodi Nakawatase bobbled a grounder and aired a throw that brought first baseman Brandy Reyes’ foot off the bag. Shortstop Desiree Fink crossed the plate for FIU to cut the ‘Niner lead to 3-2.
But the Panthers were just getting started.
FIU tied the game on a Lauren Spiers single that drove in Katie Bell. The Panthers eventually pulled ahead in the inning to a 7-3 lead when third baseman Carolina Rojas singled up the middle to plate Ashley McClain and Jessica Landau.
Right-hander Kasey Barrett (5-3) tossed four innings in relief of starter Jennifer Gniadek to pick up the win for FIU. Barrett fanned five ‘Niner batters and allowed one hit to shut the door on the LBSU offense.
Reyes hit a solo shot in the second for her first home run of the season to give LBSU a 2-1 lead.
Catcher Kristen Pocock put the 49ers up, 1-0, in the first with a double that grazed off the top of the center field fence.
Sowder said the Panthers responded well after their valiant showing in a 5-3 loss to No. 3 UCLA in the game preceding its match against LBSU.
“They gave UCLA a run for their money and it was great how they bounced back,” Sowder said.
LBSU resumes play at the Long Beach Invitational tomorrow against Iowa at 8:45 a.m.