Forty-niner fans braved the cold in hopes that the Long Beach State softball team would make a comeback against Ohio in the bottom of the seventh. Long Beach (8-13) fell to San Diego State (12-12) 4-1 and Ohio (14-8) 5-1 on the fourth day of the Louisville Slugger Invitational Saturday.
In the first game against the Aztecs, the 49ers’ offense failed to come alive until the third inning when freshman outfielder Maddy Ruffin reached first with a grounder and senior infielder Nichole Fry found herself on first base after being walked. Ruffin was thrown out at third after a slap to the second baseman by sophomore outfielder Naomi Hernandez, but Fry was able to advance to second. Junior designated player Taylor Rowland put the 49ers in the lead when she dropped the ball into shallow left center and brought Fry home to score.
“The effort’s definitely there with this team … they bring energy, they work hard, but we’re not coming through in the key situations with our at bats,” head coach Kim Sowder said. “Today was a struggle offensively for us which usually is one of our strengths.”
San Diego State fought back in the fourth when sophomore infielder Taylor Adams hit a shot to right center and earned a single. After a batter was walked, Sowder put freshman pitcher Samantha Fowler on the mound and the Aztecs capitalized on the switch. Senior catcher Molly Sturdivant was beaned by the pitch and freshman designated player Jessica Cordola hit a blooper down the left field line to bring in two runs.
The Aztecs came through with additional runs in the sixth inning when junior infielder Megan Smith was walked in her at bat and traveled home on single by senior infielder Katie Byrd.
San Diego battled until the seventh inning, when it loaded the bases with a walk by junior infielder Shelby Thompson and singles by Sturdivant and Cordola. All it took was a third single by junior outfielder Kiera Wright to bring Thompson in and score the fourth and final run.
The second game of the day saw a similar outcome as Ohio’s offense came through with full force right from the start. The Bobcats not only played a physical game, but incorporated strategy as well. Head coach Kenzie Roark utilized each players’ strength by making critical substitutions throughout the lineup when she saw fit.
At the start of the game, sophomore leadoff batter Allie Englant was walked and a rocket by sophomore infielder Katie Yun hit into deep right center moved Englant over to third. Englant scored when senior catcher Natalie Alvarez nailed a hard grounder up the middle.
Freshman outfielder Justice Ruggles entered the game to pinch run for Alvarez and made it back home when senior cleanup batter Morgan Geno placed the ball on the grassline in center field. Geno was replaced by senior pinch runner MacKenzie Brunswick, who brought the score to 3-0 after being moved around the bases by two walks and a fielder’s choice.
The 49ers made an attempt to match the score in the first inning when they loaded the bases with a walk by Hernandez and singles by Rowland and senior utility Jamie Wren. The rest of the lineup was unable to bring them home and all three were left on base at the end of the inning.
Ohio began another rally in the third inning when freshman infielder Charlee Pond singled through the infield and reached third on a double by freshman infielder Caroline Spacek. Pond scored the fourth run for the Bobcats when senior infielder Alex Day shot a grounder up the middle and moved Spacek to third. Day stole second on a pitch and sacrificed an out, allowing Spacek to simultaneously steal home and earn the fifth run for the Bobcats.
The fifth inning saw hope for Long Beach when Wren hit an RBI single and brought in sophomore catcher Justine Briones, but the action ended there as they completed the game with one run.
“I think we were having really good at bats, but a lot of hits aren’t going our way right now,” Briones said. “We just need to break through.”
Next up for Long Beach State is a 2 p.m. Saturday match against No. 3 UCLA.