Winning is synonymous with Fresno State’s legendary head softball coach Margie Wright. She’s never had a losing season in 32 years as a head coach, 26 of those at Fresno State.
Her 1,421 career victories make her one of the most successful coaches in NCAA D-I history, in any sport, men’s or women’s.
Wright said it is her competitive nature that keeps the fire burning to achieve further success.
“I believe in what we’re doing,” Wright said. “I love softball and I love what I do. The players make it fun and enjoyable every day when we come out to practice, which is motivation in itself. “I never got into coaching thinking about wins and losses,” Wright said. “I was just so competitive that I hated to lose.”
For the 2012 season, Wright has her players focused on a single goal: Winning the Women’s College World Series.
“I don’t ever give them an opportunity to set smaller goals,” Wright said. “When you set minimal goals and you don’t accomplish them you are settling for mediocrity. That is not what our program has ever been about.”
The 2012 squad features a strong core of returning players, including preseason AllWestern Athletic Conference Team members — pitcher Michelle Moses, outfielder Andrea Ortega and second basemen Brooke Ortiz; along with catcher Katlin Griffin and pitcher Mackenzie Oakes.
“Moses, Oakes and Ortega are all seniors so I look for them to have their best year ever,” Wright said. “Griffin behind the plate is also a senior, but hasn’t seen much action in her first three years. This year she is going to see a lot of action and I think she will make a big difference. Ortiz started at second base last year as a freshman and she will start again this year.”
Wright said the 2012 team will feature two freshman starters, centerfielder Brenna Moss and shortstop Maria Sio, who will turn heads early in the season.
Both Griffin and Ortiz said Coach Wright has had a huge impact on their game and their lives.
“Before I came to Fresno State I knew about her from my dad, who was my coach all my life, because she was a big inspiration for him,” Ortiz said. “Just being out here with Coach Wright is another level and it’s pretty amazing.”
Griffin echoed Ortiz’s sentiments. “The main reason I came here is because she is a great coach,” Griffin said. “She has a prestigious history and it has really impacted my life because it is so great to be here.”
Griffin said the key to success this season is to stay under the radar, while getting a strong effort from the pitchers and scoring a lot of runs for them on offense. Ortiz said the team must be fearless this season, even if an underdog to a bigger team, and not let anything stop them.
The season begins today with the first ever Fresno State Kick-Off, a series of games designed to reignite in-state rivalries and give players early, quality experience.
The Bulldogs will play 10 games in as many days versus Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, Pacific, Sacramento State, Santa Clara, UC Riverside and two outof-state teams, North Dakota State and Toledo.
“There are a lot of schools that we were competitive with for years, being in seven different conferences,” Wright said. “It has been several years since we’ve had the opportunity to play some of those old rivals.
“We have nine new players this year and I thought it would be very important for them to get comfortable right away,” Wright said.
“It’s not always comfortable playing in front of 1,500- plus fans, but here they are all rooting for you. That is a huge plus for the incoming freshmen to get all the jitters out early.”
The action starts at 7 p.m. today at Bulldog Diamond, with Fresno State facing the Toledo Rockets.
What does one of the most accomplished coaches in NCAA history do when not dominating on the diamond? Sleep, Wright said with a smile.
It just shows there’s no rest when you’re winning.