FRESNO, Calif. - The NCAA announced the tournament field for the 2012 Division I Softball Championships on Sunday and Fresno State was left out of the field of 64 for the first time in the 31-year history of the NCAA Tournament.
Despite the fact that Fresno State did not receive an at-large bid, the Bulldogs have still played in more NCAA Championships than any other Division I softball program and they remain third all-time in tournament victories with 89.
This concludes one finest chapters in all of college sports, not just college softball, as it closes out the career of legendary Fresno State head coach Margie Wright.
Wright, who is the winningest coach of all-time in NCAA Division I Softball history, announced a week ago that she would retire at the end of this season. She finishes her career with a 1,457-543-3 (.727) overall record in 33 years as a Division I head coach and a 1,294-450-1 (.742) mark in 27 seasons at Fresno State. The Bulldogs averaged a remarkable 48 wins per year under Wright's direction, including 14 seasons with 50 or more wins.
On Sunday, Wright released the following statement:
"It's really a sad day. I felt like we played a difficult enough schedule, even though we didn't win every game, and I felt like we made a run at the end," Wright said. "Unfortunately, there must have been factors that kept us from getting in.
"It's disappointing, especially disappointing for the young women on our team, but I think a 30-year run is pretty good. As of this point, we still have gone to more NCAA Tournaments than any other Division I institution. I'm proud of my players and I just wish they could have experienced an
"It was hard to know where things would fall, yet with such a young team we had accomplished many things towards the positives.”
Fresno State went 36-23 in 2012, finishing third in the Western Athletic Conference and the Bulldogs made it to the championship at the 2012 WAC Tournament, falling to BYU 8-3 on Saturday. The 36 wins this year were two more than the 'Dogs had last year when they received an at-large bid into the tournament.
The Bulldogs had several highlight victories on the season, most notably a 6-3 win over No. 7 UCLA on Feb. 25 and Friday's come-from-behind victory over No. 12 Hawai'i to advance to the championship at the WAC Tournament.
UH had held a 6-0 lead on the Bulldogs before they charged back and notched their biggest comeback victory of the season to win 9-7.
Fresno State's schedule in 2012 was as tough as anyone's in the country, as the Bulldogs played ning teams that were ranked in the top 35 of the NCAA's Women's Softball RPI rankings, including No. 1 Cal and No. 2 Arizona State.
The Bulldogs lose seven seniors from the 2012 team, including star pitchers Michelle Moses and Mackenzie Oakes. Oakes finishes her career with a 48-22 record while Moses became one of 17 Bulldogs in program history to be named first-team All-Conference in three separate seasons.
Fresno State owns a 35-year overall program record of 1,562-570-1 (.736) since 1978. The Bulldogs have never had a losing season.