Softball: The New Head ‘Dog
Before the 2013 softball season began, first-year Fresno State coach Trisha Ford said her team joked about how her winning percentage was perfect.
Seven games into the regular season, Ford isn’t perfect, but she is close.
Replacing a legend like Margie Wright isn’t going to be easy for Ford, but after seven games, she has the Bulldogs headed in the right direction.
“I’m hoping to continue in her footsteps,” Ford said about her predecessor. “I want to take the program where she left it and continue moving forward and keep going with those same goals and traditions she set here.”
The Bulldogs got off to a strong start with a 4-1 record in the Fresno State Kick-Off tournament. They swept Cal State Northridge in a doubleheader Wednesday.
It is just six wins, but it is something the Bulldogs, under new leadership, can build on.
Wright retired in June after 27 years at the Bulldogs’ helm where she posted a 1,294-450-1 record. Overall, Wright went 1,457-542-3 in a 33-year coaching career, making her the winningest Division I softball coach in NCAA history.
Ford was hired June 18 to replace Wright, making her just the fourth coach in the program’s history.
She spent the previous nine years of her coaching career at Stanford — the previous four she was the Cardinal’s associate head coach.
After countless hours of practice and spending time with her players, Ford was ready to get the season started.
“I’m excited. I don’t have very much time to be anything else but excited,” Ford said. “I’m excited for the players. They can’t wait to get out on the field and show everyone what they’ve been doing.”
Ford said her transition to Fresno State has been an easy one. She said it has been great for her family, for her staff and for herself.
The players have also welcomed Ford to the Bulldog family.
“The minute she walked in, she was really warm,” Fresno State senior outfielder Diane Runge said. “She gave us hugs when she walked in, and she made sure that her goals were set and they matched our goals. We’ve all come together. She’s really embraced us.”
Runge said it was very easy for the team to embrace Ford and her staff because of how they treated the players off the field. But adjusting to a new coaching philosophy and style hasn’t always been easy.
“On the field, it was hard because it could get frustrating because the whole philosophy is completely different,” Runge said. “A lot of us started on completely new ground. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve grown a lot as a family together.”
It may be Ford’s first season at the helm, but she has been around her players for months now, and she is very comfortable with her team.
“We’ve spent a lot of hours together, yes, they’re like my family now,” Ford said.
As for the players, they’re just excited about playing.
“I think those first few tournaments, where we have Oregon and Cal come, I think that’s what we’re really excited about,” Runge said. “We’re really excited about Cal, especially. It was a little rough last time, so we’re definitely ready to get our revenge back, and ready to hit those big-name teams.”
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