The Bears beat Utah 4-1 for the series sweep as Jolene Henderson pitched her 120th win
Cal battles back from two-run deficit with grand slam from Cheyenne Cordes
California will play Iowa State, San Diego State, Fresno State and Saint Mary's in Fresno
Cheyenne Cordes hit two home runs, and Danielle Henderson and Lindsey Ziegenhirt hit one each to boost Bears to 15th-straight win
Bears notch win with steadfast defense despite only one run and four hits
2012 Cal Softball - Year in Photos
Since her first year in the dugout in 1988, Diane Ninemire has continually taken the Golden Bears to new heights as one of the winningest and most successful softball programs in the nation.
From 1999-2005, Cal made seven straight trips to the College World Series with the Bears' most recent appearances in Oklahoma City coming in 2012 and 2011. With a national championship, 12 Women's College World Series trips and 25 straight NCAA Regional appearances to her credit, it is no wonder that Cal enters every season as a contender for the national title.
Thanks to the 8-1 victory over then-No. 14/18 Oregon on April 20, 2012, Ninemire hit yet another milestone - notching career win No. 1,100. As of April 22, 2012, only 12 coaches in the history of collegiate softball and only six in Division I ball - including Ninemire - had hit the 1,100-win mark.
In 2012, Cal set program single-season records for most runs scored (422), RBI (376), homers (84), total bases (856), and the highest fielding percentage (.979). Not only do the 58 wins this season set a new team best, but they also top the previous high of 56, which was set by the 2002 NCAA Title-winning team.
Cal opened the 2012 year on a 23-game winning streak before dropping its sole nonconference loss of the regular season to Hawaii in a 10-inning battle. The Bears won the inaugural Pac-12 title by going 21-3 in the most competitive conference, winning every single series and sweeping five of the eight series. Cal claimed the No. 1 spot in at least one of the two national polls 13 times this season, finishing the campaigned third in both rankings. After winning the Berkeley Regional and Berkeley Super Regional, the Bears went 2-2 at the Women's College World Series, in which they defeated LSU and Oregon but lost to eventual champion Alabama and eventual runner-up Oklahoma.
In 2011, the Golden Bears returned to the hallowed grounds of Oklahoma City for the 11th time in school history for the Women's College World Series. They got there by notching Cal's first-ever Super Regional series title over an SEC School - going 2-1 against host Kentucky. On the Regional level, the Bears breezed through the competition in Louisville.
After starting the 2011 campaign ranked 12th in the polls and slated to finish fourth in the Pac-10, Cal ended the year No. 5 in the country and second in the conference. Cal closed out the year at a 45-13 clip with an impressive 15-6 conference record to take second place, marking the best Pac-10 finish since 2005, when the Bears tied for first. The Bears won at least one game in each Pac-10 series and swept three schools - then-No.17 Oregon, Oregon State as well as then-No. 8 and defending national champion UCLA. For their stunning work in 2011, the National Fast Pitch Coaches' Association lauded the Cal coaching staff as the Pacific Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
In the fall of 2011, Midland University honored Ninemire with induction into its Athletic Hall of Fame. Ninemire began her collegiate playing career at Midland in 1976, lettering in basketball and softball. Ninemire led Midland softball to a state championship in 1977.
Thanks to a 6-0 victory over Sacramento State on April 7, Ninemire became the ninth coach in the history of Division I softball to notch 1,000 wins. Already the winningest coach - male or female - in all of Cal history for any sport, Ninemire now has a career record of 1,059-509 after leading the Bears to the WCWS in 2011. She has accumulated the second-most wins in Pac-10 history (1,059).
In addition to posting their 37th consecutive winning record in 2010, the Bears finished 10-11 in the Pac-10 Conference to tie for fourth, which is the highest conference finish since 2005, when the Bears were third. The Bears were one of the seven Pac-10 teams to earn an at-large bid to the postseason, marking their 25th consecutive trip to NCAA tournament, which is the second-longest streak in the nation. Cal shut out the competition at the Columbus Regional, icing Bucknell, Kentucky and Ohio State to win its fifth Regional title since the format was adopted in 2005, before falling to No. 6-seeded Georgia in Athens, Ga.
During Ninemire's tenure at Cal, 37 All-America, 75 all-region and 120 all-conference certificates have been issued to Golden Bear athletes. Two of Ninemire's former players - Michele Granger and Gillian Boxx - were four-time All-Americans and helped the United States win a gold medal as members of the 1996 Olympic Team in Atlanta. Former California Golden Bear Vicky Galindo, whom Ninemire coached, was the most recent Cal softball player named to the 2008 15-member Olympic Team roster.
Prior to the 2009 season, Ninemire was announced as one of three members to be inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's 2009 Hall of Fame class. Ninemire, who joined Frank Cheek of Humboldt State and Bill Edwards of Hofstra, was inducted into the NFCA Hall of Fame on Friday, Dec. 11 2009, at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.
Ninemire helped make history was made in 2002, when Ninemire directed Cal to its first NCAA Championship at the WCWS with a 6-0 win over Arizona, marking the first women's title in Cal athletic program history. The 2002 team set a school record for wins (56), while Jocelyn Forest claimed the tournament's Most Outstanding Player honor, and Ninemire was chosen as the NFCA National Coach of the Year. Cal became the first Pac-10 team other than UCLA and Arizona to ever win the softball national title. In the circle, Forest went undefeated in Cal's postseason run and completed the WCWS with a 4-0 record, 0.50 earned run average and 33 strikeouts in 28.0 innings.
Ninemire has enjoyed plenty of other memorable moments along her career path. In 2005, Cal won a share of the Pac-10 title (a first for a Ninemire squad) and advanced to its seventh consecutive WCWS. The 2004 version of the Bears were one of Ninemire's most successful and most decorated groups, as four All-Americans and eight All-Pac-10 selections helped drive Cal to its third consecutive WCWS championship game appearance. In 2001, Cal began the season 32-0 before finishing fifth at the WCWS. Under Ninemire, Cal has also finished third (1999), fifth (1992, 1996, 2011) and seventh (2000) at the WCWS.
The 2008 season saw the Golden Bears reach the 40-win plateau for the ninth time in the last 10 years and earn a berth to the NCAA postseason for the 23rd consecutive season. The Bears won the Fresno Regional with a dramatic 7-6 victory over Fresno State in the deciding game to advance to their third Super Regional. Cal had six all-conference performers and three all-regional selections, and set top 10 team records in runs, RBI and hits.
In her 22nd year at the helm of the Bears in 2009, Ninemire guided Cal to the postseason for the 24th consecutive season, then the second-longest streak in the nation and the longest in the Pac-10. The Bears won their NCAA Regional at Florida State before falling at top-seeded Florida in the Super Regionals. Over the course of the year, the Bears broke team records for stolen bases (146) and home runs (55).
Prior to becoming head coach, Ninemire served as an assistant for five years at Cal under Donna Terry. Together, the tandem led the Bears to three appearances in the NCAA Tournament, a third-place finish at the 1986 WCWS and the inaugural Pac-10 championship in 1987.
In 2004, Ninemire's winning reputation was recognized internationally when she was named as an assistant coach to the inaugural Greek Olympic softball team. At home, Ninemire is a past member of the NCAA Pacific Region Advisory Committee and a former chair of the All-American Selection Committee.
Ninemire began her collegiate playing career at Midland Lutheran College (Fremont, Neb.), leading the team to a state championship as a freshman. After one season, she transferred to Nebraska-Omaha, where she played on both the softball and basketball teams for three years. A shortstop and left fielder, Ninemire helped UNO win the 1978 championship and make three appearances in the College World Series.
Ninemire graduated from UNO in 1980 and completed her master's degree in physical education at Texas Woman's University in 1987. She began her coaching career at TWU in 1980 as Terry's assistant before heading west to assist Terry and the Golden Bear program in 1983.
Diane Ninemire By the Numbers
Diane Ninemire Coaching Honors