Defending national champion Florida lived up to its reputation in a 10-1 rout of the Long Beach State softball team Wednesday at the 49er Softball Complex.
The Gators (22-0) took advantage of eight walks, five hit batsmen and three errors by the 49ers (10-11). The multitude of physical and mental mistakes doomed the 49ers’ chances against the No. 1 team in the country. Head coach Kim Sowder said she was not happy at all with how her team played.
“We kind of didn’t give ourselves a chance,” Sowder said. “Any time you have eight walks and five hits by a pitch, you’re not going to give your team an opportunity to compete in the game.”
Sophomore right-hander Christina Clermont’s lack of command early on put the 49ers in a hole they could not climb out of. Florida put up three runs before the LBSU had a chance to bat.
The 49ers responded by putting up a run in the bottom half that energized the team. Senior infielder Shayna Kimbrough hit a leadoff triple and freshman infielder LT Torres brought her in with an RBI single for The Beach’s only run of the game.
Clermont’ struggles continued in the second inning. She was pulled in favor of senior right-hander Amanda Hansen after loading the bases. Hansen limited the damage by only allowing a run on an error by sophomore catcher Lauren Lombardi.
“I had a few strikeouts,” Hansen said. “I was sharp with my pitches. I was throwing them low enough because the umpire was really tight on us. Not being able to have a normal strike zone was a little hard, but I got through it.”
Hansen’s solid outing began to crumble in the sixth when she allowed a run on a throwing error to first base that also put runners at the corners with one out. Senior infielder Lauren Haeger stepped up to the plate in the next at bat and crushed a three-run home run to left field.
“I knew that throwing a curve, [Haeger] was going to hit it,” Hansen said. “I didn’t know how fat, or how small, but she got all of the ball. I just didn’t throw it as low as I needed to and after that, obviously, I felt like I let the team down.”
There were a few positive notes on the game. Hansen came out with confidence for the first time since her game against UCLA on Feb. 27, and Julia Lombardi extended her hitting streak to eight games.
“[This game] was a growth for me, because I haven’t been doing well the past three weekends I’ve been pitching,” Hansen said.
LBSU heads to Fullerton on Thursday to play a trio of ranked opponents in the Judi Garman Classic. The 49ers take on No. 14 Auburn on Thursday, No. 13 Arizona on Saturday and No. 2 Oregon on Sunday.