The Daily 49er sports staff compiled a list of sports that will be in play during the Spring 2018 semester. We did a breakdown of the following sports that are in action: women’s tennis, women’s water polo, beach volleyball, track and field, baseball and softball.
Women’s tennis: The Long Beach women’s tennis team started its season this past week Friday against UC Riverside. The 49ers picked up a 5-2 victory over the Highlanders for their first win of the season and in the Big West Conference. In the No. 1 spot, senior Lena Pacholski will lead Long Beach in its next game Saturday against Saint Mary’s at Rhodes Tennis Center. The 49ers will play their next conference game Feb. 10 against Hawai’i. The conference is filled with nine teams and the Big West Tournament will be held April 26 at Indian Wells, California.
Women’s water polo: It’s not that often when the men’s water polo team and women’s water polo teams have the same coach. Gavin Arroyo leads both programs, but this Spring he will lead the women’s team who are coming off a 18-12 record after losing in the Big West Championship game to UC Irvine. It was the second time in program history that the team advanced to the Big West Championship game. Long Beach will have seven seniors returning this season that starts Saturday against Pacific at Stanford. The team’s first home game will be against UC Santa Barbara March 10.
Beach volleyball: Last year No. 7 LBSU beach volleyball team made its first appearance in the NCAA Beach Volleyball championship, but fell short to No. 2 LSU 3-2 in five sets. This year the team has a plethora of freshmen and transfers which have given them a new look. There are also three fifth year returners in Rachel Nieto, Nele Barber and Sasha Karelov. Sophomore Hailey Harward understands that the team will not be perfect from the start, but will continue to improve throughout the season. Lineups have not been set yet, but the 49ers will have their annual Alumni game Feb. 24 followed by their season opener March 7.
Track and Field: Both the Long Beach State men’s and women’s track and field team will start its season off by hosting the Beach Opener March 2 and 3. Key returning members include women’s senior sprinter Ashleigh Chambers and men’s junior thrower Josh Carr who both were 2017 NCAA west preliminary qualifiers. There are a lot of fresh faces joining the men’s team this year with 20 true freshmen joining; the women’s team will have no freshmen but a mixture of upperclassmen.
Baseball: The Dirtbags enter the 2018 season as the reigning Big West Conference champions, coming off of a historic season filled with accolades (42-20-1, 20-4 Big West). They hosted a NCAA Regional and Super Regional Tournament and fell just one game shy of the College World Series. As a result, seven year head coach Troy Buckley will be seven impact players short after the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft claimed the core of the team’s success. Senior pitcher John Sheaks, senior shortstop Laine Huffman and junior second baseman Jarren Duran assume veteran roles amongst a team full of fresh faces. The Dirtbags host St. Mary’s Feb. 16 to kickoff the season.
Softball: The LBSU softball team looks to improve upon a sub .500 season in 2017 (23-28-1, 11-10 Big West) finishing tied for third in conference. The 49ers are led in the circle by sophomore pitcher Cielo Meza (6-4, 1.26 ERA) and senior pitcher/outfielder Jessica Flores Meza who had 41 strikeouts in 65 innings last season. Head coach Kim Sowder enters her 12th season at the helm with a lineup spearheaded by junior shortstop Nicole Fry and senior outfielder Rachel Loera, who both hit over .270 last spring. The 49ers travel start the campaign with 20 consecutive road games before hosting Baylor at the LBSU Softball Complex March 6.