Daily 49er

LBSU hosts first place CSUN

One of the biggest challenges awaits The Beach in the last stretch run of the season.

Long+Beach+State+pitcher+Christina+Clermont+delivers+a+pitch+against+Cal+State+Fullerton+on+April+18+at+the+49er+Softball+Complex.+Clermont+pitched+seven+innings+and+allowed+only+one+run+to+the+Titans.+
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LBSU hosts first place CSUN

Long Beach State pitcher Christina Clermont delivers a pitch against Cal State Fullerton on April 18 at the 49er Softball Complex. Clermont pitched seven innings and allowed only one run to the Titans.

Long Beach State pitcher Christina Clermont delivers a pitch against Cal State Fullerton on April 18 at the 49er Softball Complex. Clermont pitched seven innings and allowed only one run to the Titans.

Bobby Yagake

Long Beach State pitcher Christina Clermont delivers a pitch against Cal State Fullerton on April 18 at the 49er Softball Complex. Clermont pitched seven innings and allowed only one run to the Titans.

Bobby Yagake

Bobby Yagake

Long Beach State pitcher Christina Clermont delivers a pitch against Cal State Fullerton on April 18 at the 49er Softball Complex. Clermont pitched seven innings and allowed only one run to the Titans.

Josh Barajas, Staff Writer

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The Long Beach State softball team will host Big West leader Cal State Northridge at the 49er Softball Complex for a three-game series starting Saturday looking to close the gap in league standings.

The Matadors (37-10, 12-0) began conference play by sweeping Cal Poly, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside. CSUN’s last defeat came nearly a month ago on March 26 when it lost 6-4 against No. 10 UCLA in ten innings.

“[CSUN is] a solid team,” head coach Kim Sowder said. “They’ve had a good season from the start to right now. They’re finding a way to win every game.”

The 49ers (21-22, 8-4) are fresh off a sweep of Cal State Fullerton that gave them sole possession of second place in the Big West. Sowder said this is the most momentum the team has had all season.

“It’s been a struggle getting that momentum,” Sowder said. “But we definitely are playing the best softball we have all season. We’re just really getting timely hitting and timely pitching.”

The 49ers have their toughest test ahead of them this weekend when they face CSUN’s top-ranked offense. The Matadors have a .316 team batting average, and are tops in both on base (.386) and slugging percentage (.481).

Sophomore right-hander Christina Clermont and catcher Lauren Lombardi said they were confident about the series.

“I’m hoping that this energy from the sweep will carry over [against CSUN],” Lombardi said. “Hopefully we’ll be some of their first losses.”

A pair of sophomores powers the Matadors’ offense. Catcher Katie Hooper is tops in the Big West in home runs (14) and runs batted in (51). Outfielder Taylor Glover leads the conference in stolen bases (26) and is hitting .396.

CSUN’s pitching has kept pace with the offense. Freshman right-hander Zoe Conley was named a finalist for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Freshman of the Year Award last week, and is the reigning Big West Player of the Week.

The first-year pitcher ranks second in the conference in earned run average (1.45) and wins (18). She has thrown 118 strikeouts in 130.1 innings pitched, and owns a total of seven shutouts on the season.

Senior right-hander Brianna Elder has been equally as effective as Conley. She ranks second in the conference with an outstanding 160 punch outs in 144.2 innings. Elder owns an ERA of 2.18 and boasts 15 wins on the season.

“We’re excited to play [CSUN],” Clermont said. “We love good competition, so we’re just going to do our stuff and get after them.”

The 49ers will host the Matadors in a three-game series starting with a Saturday doubleheader at 1 p.m.

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