After coming back from the brink of elimination earlier in the day, a missed catch by Julia Lombardi against Ole Miss cost the 49ers a chance at extending their post season.
It was a rollercoaster of emotions for Long Beach State softball (43-14) Saturday at the second day of the Tempe Regional. It began with the 49ers avoiding elimination by defeating New Mexico State 8-0 (29-24), but ended another defeat at the hands of Ole Miss (32-24) 1-0.
Senior pitcher Jessica Flores took to the mound for Long Beach Saturday in both games, allowing only four hits and no runs against New Mexico State, while allowing three hits, three walks and one run to Ole Miss.
Flores would be supported by a powerful offense in the opening game, during which the 49ers rounded up a dominant eight runs in the first inning. Junior shortstop Nichole Fry capitalized on a three-base error after the New Mexico State pitcher overthrew the ball all the way to the outfield fence.
The 49ers would earn its first run as freshman center fielder Naomi Hernandez singled to left field to bring Fry in, followed by two singles and a walk to load the bases and bring one run in.
An error and a hit batter would keep the bases loaded and bring another two runs in, which would give junior left fielder Jamie Wren a perfect chance to single in two more runs. After a sacrifice fly from senior third baseman LT Torres, Fry would return to the plate to single in the final run of the inning.
Fry would earn the final RBI of the game in the fifth inning, giving Long Beach the 9-0 victory that would set it up for its rematch against Ole Miss, who they lost to the day before.
The 49ers put up a stronger fight against the Rebels this time around after losing 9-1 the day before, only allowing three hits compared to nine and getting eight hits compared to five in what would be a pitching battle between Flores and senior Ole Miss pitcher Kaitlin Lee.
Flores held the Rebels to no hits through the first four innings and though her team hadn’t found an offensive push quite yet, the sixth inning would be the closest the 49ers would come to scoring after loading the bases, only for senior right fielder Lombardi to hit into a double play, ending the inning.
After a single in the bottom of the sixth put a runner on first for the Rebels and a ground out and wild pitch moved the runner over, senior second baseman Grayce Majam made a SportsCenter-worthy catch to keep the runner on third with two outs.
The 49ers couldn’t escape the inning without giving up a run, however, as Lombardi came up just short of catching a deep fly ball to right that brought the runner in for the sole run of the game to give the Rebels its 1-0 lead that carried it to victory.
Though the postseason is over for Long Beach, the 49ers still had an impressive 2018 season, setting multiple records for the team including 486 hits and 91 doubles, as well as matching the program’s best batting average ever at .306.