Since her first year in the dugout in 1988, Diane 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. With a national championship, nine Women’s College World Series trips, and 22 straight NCAA Regional appearances to her credit, it is no wonder that Cal enters every season as a national contender.
Diane Ninemire interviewed on The Fastpitch TV Show
Produced By Gary Leland
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 California history for any sport, Ninemire now has a career record of 1,014-496 after leading the Golden Bears to Super Regional play in 2010. She has accumulated the second-most wins in Pac-10 history (1,014).
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 2003, 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.
Since the 1999 season, California is an impressive 571-244, with five 50-win seasons and five 40-win seasons. Over the last six seven seasons, Ninemire’s squad has posted a 312-140 mark.
During Ninemire’s tenure at Cal, 36 All-America, 90 all-region, and 156 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. The 2009 class will bring the NFCA’s Hall of Fame to 50 members.
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. 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) 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, 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 to the 1978 championship and 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.