Thursday, January 8, 2015

All-American and Olympian Laura Berg's jersey to be retired in Fresno


Laura Berg, one of the greatest American softball players in history and an All-American at Fresno State, will have her No. 44 jersey number retired by her alma mater in February.

The former Bulldog center fielder, a first-team All-American all four seasons at Fresno State, will be honored in a ceremony on February 28 at Margie Wright Diamond.  The jersey retirement will take place before the scheduled 5:30 p.m. game between the Bulldogs and Oregon State, for whom Berg is spending her third season as head coach.

Berg's crowning achievement while at Fresno State coincides with perhaps the biggest moment in the school's storied athletic history.  As a senior in 1998, her softball team captured the Bulldogs' first team NCAA championship in any sport, as Fresno State upset then No. 1-ranked Arizona 1-0 to win the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.

Fresno State's NCAA title-clinching victory snapped Arizona's 29-game winning streak and ended a couple of the Wildcats' stunning, record-breaking runs.  Until that game, Arizona had not allowed a single run that season in the NCAA Tournament.  Also, the Wildcats had won five of the previous seven national championships at that point and were prohibitive favorites to win another.

Berg ended her Fresno State career leading the Western Athletic Conference in triples, runs, hits, at bats, games played, and total bases. Berg is the only Bulldog player to produce more than 300 career hits and had a 160-game defensive errorless streak as an outfielder.  Nearly 20 years after her career ended, Berg remains second all-time in NCAA history with 396 career hits.

The most decorated USA Softball Olympic athlete in history, Berg has 11 total medals (10 gold) while competing in the U.S. Olympic Games, the International Softball Federation Women's World Championship and the Pan American Games.  Berg represented Team USA in all four of its Olympic appearances, helping claim three gold medals for her nation (1996, 2000 and 2004) and one silver (2008).  She is the only US softball player to compete in four different Olympics.