After finishing its final preseason game against LMU on a high note, Long Beach State softball is in for a tough series against Hawaii in the first games of Big West play this weekend. The series begins at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium with a 9 p.m. Pacific time game Friday night followed by games at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday.
While Hawai’i (19-9) shows a promising record, Long Beach (13-16) has a weapon of its own with junior pitcher Ashley Coleman. Coleman was named the Big West pitcher of the week after throwing a no-hitter in a 8-0 mercy rule win over LMU and holds a 2.58 ERA.
Along with Coleman, junior pitcher Kellie White has aided the team with wins accumulated this season. White has played seven complete games, thrown 50 strikeouts and carries a 3.62 ERA.
The top of the Long Beach State lineup has no trouble finding its way on base with senior infielder Nichole Fry, sophomore outfielder Naomi Hernandez, junior infielder Sydney McCollum, and senior utility Jamie Wren all batting in the .300’s. Cleanup batter Wren leads the team with a batting average of .370, entering the box 92 times, garnering 5 homeruns in just the preseason alone. Hernandez has an average of .312, has stepped in the box 93 times and has scored the most runs with 23.
“I am happy with the way we have been playing lately, but we need to work on finding ways to make adjustments at the plate in those tight games,” head coach Kim Sowder said. “I’m feeling pretty good about heading into conference right now … we’ve got some work to do still, but we are definitely improving.”
With a .679 win percentage, Hawai’i has had a hot start in their preseason matchups. A notable team the Rainbow Wahines have defeated is Fresno State, which Long Beach State fell to 3-6 at home.
Hawai’i is led on the offensive end by senior infielder Nicole Lopez, who holds a .419 batting average, has scored 33 runs and has earned 10 home runs. Lopez is followed by junior infielder Callee Heen, who has a .384 average, scored 17 runs and collected nine home runs.
The Hawai’i pitching staff includes senior pitcher Brittany Hitchcock, who returns to the team as a sixth year senior after suffering an injury during last year’s season. Hitchcock holds an ERA of 2.10, and has thrown 71 strikeouts in her 16 games played. Freshman pitcher Isabella Dino is also a strong suit with a 2.79 ERA and 31 strikeouts with 14 games played.
“I think conference is definitely up for grabs, we have a really good chance,” sophomore infielder Alyssa Gonzales said. “After last weekend against Fullerton and how we came out and played, I think we are ready for conference and ready to get some wins.”