Long Beach State softball starts Big West Conference play on Mar. 18 as The Beach takes on UC Riverside in a three-game series at home.
During non-conference play head coach, Kim Sowder earned her 500th win on Feb. 19 against Louisiana-Monroe.
“I feel very blessed to coach all of these players and have won these 500 games and I haven’t played in those just coached them but I am very fortunate to have such very talented, and good people and grateful for my assistant coaches that I have helped earn all those wins,” Sowder said.
Sowder is entering her 17th season coaching LBSU softball and has led the team to eight NCAA Regional tournaments and four Big West Championships. She last won the Big West title in 2021. Sowder was also an assistant coach for 11 years with The Beach.
“I have been with the program for 32 years which is a long time, I am very fortunate to be in the position that I am in,” she said.
She also played shortstop for LBSU throughout her time as a student from 1989-1992. Sowder owns LBSU’s all-time record for stolen bases with 50. Sowder led LBSU to three straight NCAA Women’s College World Series From 1990-92 as a player.
Sowder discussed the difference between being a player vs coaching and how she still learns as a coach to this day.
“I’ve got to learn along the way and grow up here I am still learning every day and that’s the great thing it never gets old, and there’s always a challenge and to learn from former coaches and all the players as they teach me things every day and being surrounded by so many great coaches at Long Beach,” Sowder said.
LBSU comes into its first conference game of the 2023 season off the backs of a 19-8 season where they were runners-up to Big West Champions Cal State Fullerton. LBSU pitcher and senior Samantha Fowler had a record of 14-8 last season and was named second Team All-Big West finishing with a total of 128 strikeouts.
LBSU’s current record is 10-14 after hosting the Wilson Invitational and the Louisville Slugger Invitational, as well as playing in three other tournaments.
“In the pre-season we were up and down a little bit, I would say we were playing a really tough schedule and it’s been very challenging for a very new team,” Sowder said. “I think the good thing is we are steadily improving and we are playing our best softball right now and we are starting to gain confidence as a team.”
UC Riverside defeated The Beach in last season’s series winning two out of the three games. The Beach is 7-2 all-time and is 3-0 at home against the Highlanders.
Coach Sowder discussed her goals for this upcoming regular season and the conference as a whole.
“Our goal is to win the conference and make the postseason, and we know that’s a great challenge and our conference is a lot stronger this season,” she said. “I think all of the teams are playing better softball this year without a doubt and it’s exciting.”