Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fresno State to dedicate Margie Wright Diamond

After formal approval Tuesday from the California State University Committee on Advancement during a CSU Board of Trustees meeting, Fresno State president Dr. Joseph I. Castro made it official:  The on-campus home of the Bulldog softball program will change its name to Margie Wright Diamond.

On Sat., May 3rd, when Fresno State hosts Colorado State, a formal ceremony will be held, changing the name from Bulldog Diamond to honor Wright, the winningest head coach in Fresno State and NCAA Division I softball history. 

Wright guided the Bulldogs for 27 years, taking them to 26 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, 10 trips to the Women's College World Series, three 5th place national finishes, three 3rd place national finishes, four berths in the NCAA championship game and one NCAA crown.  After finishing as the national runners-up three times, Wright and the Bulldogs won the NCAA softball championship in 1998 in Oklahoma City, defeating Coach Mike Candrea and Arizona.

In the '98 NCAA softball championship game, Fresno State defeated then-No. 1 ranked powerhouse Arizona in a 1-0 thriller, snapping the Wildcats' 29-game winning streak in the process.  Wright's career as the Bulldogs head coach ended when she retired at the conclusion of the 2012 season.  Under her guidance, Fresno State earned 1,294 wins, a .742 winning percentage, 17 conference titles, and had more than 50 softball players earn All-American honors.

Fresno State was ranked in the nation's Top 25 polls at some point in all 27 years Wright coached the Bulldogs.  During one stretch, the Bulldogs were ranked for a then-NCAA record 178 consecutive polls, including 154 times in the nation's Top 10.  During her tenure, Bulldog Diamond expanded into one of the nation's premier facilities, with full chairback seating -- something that was unheard of in the mid-1990s in the sport of softball.

Bulldog Diamond led the nation in attendance 13 different years during Wright's career.  It still holds the NCAA record for largest regular-season, on-campus crowd, set in 2000 when Fresno State drew 5,724 fans to watch the Bulldogs face Arizona.  Bulldog Diamond is also home to the largest single-season attendance record, which still stands today.  Fresno State drew 55,746 fans in 1999, the year following the school's national title.