Cielo Meza came out as her dominant self in the first two innings of the regional matchup between Long Beach State and Ole Miss, but had a complete meltdown in the third inning. She gave up walk after walk, which led to the onslaught that Ole Miss put on the 49ers in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
It was a bad night for Long Beach (42-13) as Ole Miss (31-23) went home with a 9-1 win.
All year long, Meza proved to be the ace for the Long Beach State softball team, but she couldn’t deliver under pressure. Coming into the matchup against Ole Miss, she had an ERA of 1.48, and completed two no hitters in the regular season.
After loading the bases on two singles and one error, the 49ers struck first and took an early lead in the second inning after junior left fielder Jamie Wren lined a shot to the Rebels’ third baseman creating a fielding error to bring senior right fielder Julia Lombardi in for a 1-0 lead.
Long Beach couldn’t hold the momentum for long, as Ole Miss put runners on second and third in the third inning. This led to a pitching change to senior pitcher Jessica Flores, who would give up three runs to give Ole Miss a 3-1 lead.
The offense never ignited again for the 49ers, as Ole Miss dominated the defense and carried the momentum for its offense, with freshman designated player Abbey Latham hitting two home runs in the fifth and seventh innings.
Latham’s home run capped a five-run seventh inning to carry her team to the 9-1 victory over Long Beach.
The playoffs aren’t over yet for the 49ers, however, as they will get the opportunity to recapture some confidence in an elimination game 4:30 p.m. Saturday against New Mexico State (29-23). New Mexico State is coming off a loss against Arizona State (44-11), so the 49ers will look to capitalize to have another shot against the winner of Ole Miss and Arizona State.