Softball, Sports, Women's Sports

Pitching shines in weekend sweep of UC Davis Aggies

Stellar pitching carried an otherwise lackluster offense as Long Beach State softball swept UC Davis in a weekend series sweep.

Senior pitcher Sophia Fernandez pitched 11 innings in a marathon first game of the Saturday doubleheader. The lefty was lights out, allowing just one run off a triple in the first inning and tying a career-high with seven strikeouts, tossing 162 pitches during the 11-inning crawl.

In game two, junior pitcher Eryka Gonzales got the start and was relieved in the second inning by freshman Kate Barnett, who allowed two hits in the first inning.

Barnett wouldn’t relinquish the ball for the rest of the game and shut the Aggies out in seven innings, striking out two while allowing just two hits.

“I was really just trying to rely on my defense… just trying to keep that energy from the offense going into the defense,” Barnett said. “Ryk [Gonzales] did a really good job from just the very first inning.”

Across two games and 19 total innings, the Beach only scored three runs, one of them unearned.

The Beach amassed eight hits across 11 innings of the first game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Despite this, they would not score until the sixth inning, where they tied the Aggies 1-1.

That would be their only run until the game-winning run in the 11th when sophomore infielder Selena Perez singled with the bases loaded to drive home senior Sara Olson to win the game.

In game two of the doubleheader, The Beach left eight runners on and the only run scored. The winning run in the eighth came unearned because of an Aggie fielding error.

Fernandez started the Sunday game just 24 hours after going the distance for 11 innings in game one.

The Big West Pitcher of the Week‘s dominance continued in the series final. Fernandez distance once again and allowed just five hits while pitching all seven innings, securing the win for Long Beach State.

“I had to grind through it,” Fernandez said. “I had to adjust my pitches; I was throwing slower because I threw so much yesterday.”

Both teams’ bats started the third game just as dormant as they had been in the first two. Neither team scored a run until the fourth inning.

Junior Corissa Sweet ripped a double against the left field wall in the second inning. Senior Jocylyn Vidal attempted to score from first but was called out at home in a controversial call by home plate umpire Randy Adair.

Head coach Kim Sowder was incensed with the call and argued with Adair and first base umpire Bubba Ewald. Sowder was ejected by Ewald after kicking up the infield dirt in a gesture toward the umpire.

“After yesterday’s extra-innings ball games… it’s emotional, we’re competing out here,” Sowder said. “We had a chance to score there and [I] just didn’t agree with the call but I shouldn’t have said anything and definitely… done a better job with that.”

Sowder then had to be blocked from re-entering the field by another umpire after Olson was also ejected from the game.

Fans from both the Long Beach and UC Davis sides of the stands broiled with tension and exchanged jokes as the umpires ordered the situation on the field.

“Our team definitely got fired up, that’s something that brought us together and gave us a little bit more motivation to get some runs across,” junior third baseman Carly Robbins said.

“We definitely used that to our advantage and were able to pull out the W.”

The Beach offense began to show life in the fourth when sophomore outfielder Makayla Medellin hit a line drive double over the head of the Aggie left fielder. A squeeze bunt by Robbins scored Medellin from third for the run of the game for either team.

“Good adjustments, in-game adjustments,” Sowder said. “Finding a way, doing the little things, a squeeze bunt to get on the board.”

A half-swung dribbler with the bases loaded from junior catcher Rebekah Duranzo went just past the Davis pitcher to drive home the second run of the fourth inning and put Long Beach State up 2-0.

Fernandez allowed her first and only run off the game in the fifth, but the Beach answered right back. In the bottom of the inning, Robbins struck a line drive into the left-center gap, driving in another run to pad their lead to 3-1.

Perez doubled in an insurance run in the sixth to put LBSU up 4-1. The team scored more runs in the first six innings of the Sunday game than they had across both Saturday contests.

Long Beach State wouldn’t need any more insurance as Fernandez closed out the game for her second complete game in as many days.

The sweep against conference rivals improves LBSU to 5-1 against Big West opponents and 10-22 overall. A three-game series versus CSUN will start on Friday, March 29 at the LBSU Softball Complex.

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