As students prepare for finals, the Long Beach State softball team is gearing up for the last weekend series of the regular season against CSUN beginning Friday.
With 40 wins this season, Long Beach State has reached that mark for the ninth time in school history and for the first time since 2008. The team currently holds a 40-11 record and is ranked No. 20 in the nation.
Given its standing, Long Beach is sitting in a prime position for selection to participate in the NCAA tournament, which would mark its 24th appearance in the postseason.
The 49ers are clicking at the right time, having won two out of three games in their final home series against Cal Poly and on the road against UC Davis this past weekend.
Although the postseason is right around the corner for Long Beach, the team will focus on the upcoming series. As head coach Kim Sowder once said, taking “one game at a time” has been an important goal through the year.
“We’re trying to continue what we’ve done all season, which is to have really good practices, try to continue to get better and have that growth mindset,” Sowder said. “We want to play our best softball, so we’ve got to do that in practice first and this team is well aware of that and they’ve done that all season.”
While many teams usually look toward the opponents’ play styles to see what to prepare for in the game, Sowder believes her team should only look at what it can improve upon.
“We’re really just focused on ourselves and playing together as a team and being ready to go,” Sowder said. “Being rested, having that energy and having the attitude to want to win when stepping on the field.”
Sowder said the team’s ability to adjust throughout the game will help lead Long Beach toward victory.
Northridge’s season has been middle-of-the-road this year, having a 22-34 record and a 7-11 Big West Conference record earning 232 runs and 392 hits. Though the team is coming off of a two-game win streak after winning its series against Hawaii on the road, it will have tough competition against Long Beach, as the 49ers have accumulated over 400 hits this season and almost 300 runs.
Given that nearly a third of the team are seniors and many are preparing for graduation, Sowder noted there has been a major push for focus on closing the season out strong amid all this planning.
“We have seven seniors, we’ve talked about a lot of the distractions and one thing that we’ve really focused on [is] keeping our vision of our goals,” Sowder said. “Every week we come out and revisit these and we don’t want to lose sight because of all of these distractions, including parties and graduation, and working toward [our vision] every day.”
One such graduating senior will be second baseman Grayce Majam, who has 42 hits and 24 runs this season and went 1-for-3 in the final home game against Cal Poly. The 49ers lost the match, but Majam won with a surprise marriage proposal from her boyfriend.
Majam will take the field alongside the rest of her team for the final series of the regular season at CSUN Friday with a double-header beginning at 1 p.m., followed by the final game on Saturday at 1 p.m., which will be broadcast live on ESPN 3.
The 49ers will also have the postseason to look forward to, as the announcement of the teams who make it into the NCAA Women’s College World Series Regionals will be released Sunday night.