Feb. 29, 2008
Las Vegas - 21st year head coach Diane Ninemire reached another milestone in her storied California tenure with career win No. 900, after the Golden Bears defeated Long Beach State, 15-7 at the Eller Media Stadium Classic (hosted by UNLV) on Friday afternoon.
"I'm very proud to have coached 21 years at Cal," said Ninemire. "The 900th win is very special and the team did it in style, putting up 15 runs against a quality opponent in Long Beach State. I'm extremely proud of my career at Cal. Every win has been sweet, but I'll remember this for a long time."
Ninemire has accumulated the second-most wins in Pac-10 history (900) and is the 11th softball coach in NCAA history to have 900 or more wins. The next winningest active coach in the Pac-10 is Stanford's John Rittman, who had 465 entering the 2008 season. Mississippi State's Jay Miller (slated at No. 12 all-time in NCAA wins) has 899 wins in 26 years through games played Feb. 29. Ninemire's 900 wins in 21 years of service at Cal ranks her first among active coaches in their 21st year, well ahead of Tennessee's Ralph Weekly, who has 842 (15th all-time) and Texas Tech's Teresa Wilson (16th all-time) with 801.
Against Long Beach State, senior Julie Meyer provided the big hit of the afternoon when her grand slam cleared the left field wall, giving Cal a 13-5 lead. Senior Erika Racklin had her seventh multi-hit game of the season, notching two hits on four plate appearances with two runs and a stolen base. Sophomore Shannon Houston had a career day, belting a career-high four hits on five plate appearances with three runs and an RBI.
Cal unlocked a 1-1 tie with a four-run second inning against the 49ers to take a 5-1 lead. With the bases loaded and two outs, Bernice Masaniai singled up the middle to plate both Valerie Arioto and Houston. One batter later, Sanoe Kekahuna doubled to left-center field, allowing Masaniai and Gina Leomiti to score.
The 49ers stormed back to tie the game at 5-5 after their four-run third inning, before Cal answered with three more runs in the bottom half of the stanza. Leomiti provided the key hit when her single up the middle scored Arioto and Houston.
Since her first year in the dugout in 1988, Ninemire has continually taken the 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.
Since the 1999 season, California is an impressive 457-185, with five 50-win seasons. Over the last four seasons, Ninemire's squad has posted a 198-81 mark. During Ninemire's tenure at Cal, 34 All-America, 80 all-region, and 134 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.
History was made in 2002 when Ninemire helped direct Cal to its first NCAA Championship at the WCWS with a 6-0 win over the Arizona Wildcats, 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 win the softball national title.