LAKEWOOD — A pair of two-out rallies and dominant starting pitching propelled the Long Beach State softball team to its ninth consecutive victory Friday morning.
The 49ers blanked the Longwood Lancers, 4-0, in the opener of the Long Beach State Invitational at Mayfair Park.
Freshman starter Taylor Petty (6-0) hurled her third complete-game shutout of the season in four starts for the ‘Niners. She scattered six hits over seven innings, struck out six and walked two to lower her ERA to a microscopic 0.34.
“Our pitching is real strong and we were able to get some two-out rallies,” head coach Kim Sowder said.
Petty, who has allowed just two earned runs in 40 2/3 innings, has emerged to form a dangerous 1-2 punch in the rotation with sophomore Brooke Turner.
“Taylor had success all throughout high school,” Sowder said. “She’s mentally tough and we’re very excited about the future but we want to stay focused on now and stay sharp.”
Offensively for LBSU (13-7), designated player Kristen Pocock led the way with a 2-for-4 performance including an RBI single to put the 49ers on the board in the first.
“Kristen’s done an outstanding job swinging the bat,” said Sowder, who credited the work Pocock put in the fall to get stronger.
Third baseman Jennifer Griffin drew a two-out walk, stole second and advanced to third on an error. Pocock then plated Griffin on a base hit to left field to give the ‘Niners a 1-0 lead.
“I’m seeing the ball well, not getting behind in counts,” said Pocock, who’s been named the Big West Conference’s co-Field Player of the Week twice this season and raised her team-leading batting average to .380.
LBSU worked some more two-out magic in the top of the fourth.
After allowing a single and a walk, Longwood starter Briana Wells gave up a two-run triple to Brianna Goad. The senior roped a 2-2 pitch to deep center and over the head of Kami Nuckols, who got a late jump on the ball after initially taking a few steps toward the infield.
Wells (5-4) allowed four runs — three earned — on six hits in five-plus innings of work for the Lancers (6-5). She was pulled for reliever Brittany Spencer after allowing a leadoff single to Jonae Perez to start the sixth.
Right fielder Danielle Linke, who finished the game 2-for-4, added a bloop RBI double later in the inning to score pinch-runner Megan Denio.
Six different 49ers recorded a hit and the team put a runner on base in every inning.
“We’re on a pretty good roll and we want to stay there,” Pocock said.
LBSU returns to action later in the afternoon against Florida International. First-pitch is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.