Which is your top Diamond Moment?
WCWS Top Diamond Moments: Fresno State 1998
The Women's College World Series has provided many great moments over the years, but which snapshot is your favorite?
Our experts have selected 10 great moments since 1998. Between now and the start of the WCWS on May 31, vote on your favorites and we'll unveil your picks during the championship week broadcasts.
It's difficult to think of one swing that carried more meaning than Nina Lindenberg's cut in the sixth inning of the 1998 championship game between Fresno State and Arizona that sent the ball soaring over the left-field bleachers in Oklahoma City. Establishing itself as the sport's pre-eminent program at the time, Arizona won five national championships in seven seasons between 1991 and 1997. A 67-3 record entering the 1998 title game made a sixth look certain. The Wildcats had already defeated the Bulldogs three times during the regular season and hadn't allowed a run in six NCAA tournament games, outscoring opponents 45-0 en route to the final. But with Fresno State pitcher Amanda Scott keeping Arizona's bats at bay, the stage was set for Lindenberg's blast off Nancy Evans. It was the only run Arizona allowed, but it gave Fresno a 1-0 win and the trophy. -- Graham Hays
Iconic players do iconic things. And on her way to a place in the American sporting consciousness unlike any softball player before or since, Jennie Finch made her lone NCAA championship count. Cementing her place as Most Outstanding Player in the 2001 Women's College World Series, Finch threw a shutout in the championship game to give Arizona its sixth national title. But she didn't just throw a shutout; she threw a shutout in a 1-0 win against archrival UCLA. And she didn't just beat the Bruins; the win gave Finch a 32-0 record, and her NCAA single-season record for winning percentage still stands. -- GH
Few players ever had reason to care less about the outcome of a softball game than California's Jocelyn Forest in the 2002 Women's College World Series. And her performance provided a glimpse of perseverance far more impressive than her stellar pitching. On April 14, 2002, Jocelyn's older sister, Erika, was murdered by her husband. Just weeks later, Forest took to the circle in Oklahoma City and shut out Arizona in the championship game. The 6-0 win brought the Bears their first national championship, the first for any Pac-10 program other than Arizona or UCLA. Forest was the star that week, pitching every inning in the World Series for a team that won all four of its games and allowed just two runs on its way to the title. -- GH
Don Larsen's name still resonates with sports fans since the former Yankees pitcher is the only man to throw a perfect game in the World Series. But imagine if Larsen had accomplished that feat after beating the best pitcher in the sport the day before. Twice. Keira Goerl wasn't perfect in the 2003 championship game against California, but she threw the only no-hitter in finals history. She didn't get any breathing room, needing nine innings to secure a 1-0 win against the defending national champion. Goerl did it after beating Texas All-American Cat Osterman twice the previous day to reach the title game. Against Osterman, who struck out 488 batters in 242 2/3 innings that season, Goerl allowed just five hits in 14 innings in Sunday's games. -- GH
Natasha Watley and Cat Osterman were teammates en route to the greatest achievement of their respective careers, a gold medal for Team USA in the 2004 Olympics. But a year earlier, Watley's sprint home for UCLA ruined arguably Osterman's best chance to win a title with Texas. Osterman's team entered the World Series in prime position to reach the following day's title game. All the Longhorns needed was one win against the Bruins, and their ace entered the day with a 32-4 record and 0.30 ERA. UCLA beat Osterman once to force a winner-take-all second game later the same day, and Texas took a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning of that decisive game. With a runner on second, Watley's single plated the tying run. When teammate Caitlin Benyi hit a ball to right field, the fleet-footed Watley raced home and eluded the tag for a walk-off win. -- GH
With one swing of the bat against UCLA, Michigan freshman Samantha Findlay changed the meaning of the phrase national champions. The 2005 World Series marked the first time the championship was decided by a best-of-three series instead of a winner-take-all game, but even the extra games proved insufficient. Findlay's three-run home run to left field in the top of the 10th inning in the third game gave the Wolverines as dramatic a win as one could imagine. It also gave college softball its first champion from east of the Mississippi River, making Findlay, an Illinois product who stayed in Big Ten country, the perfect heroine. -- GH
The most impressive part of Taryne Mowatt's extended soliloquy on the World Series stage might have been lifting the championship trophy over her head after throwing more than 1,000 pitches in eight starts. Arizona was going to go as far as Mowatt could take it, as the diminutive ace was essentially coach Mike Candrea's only option in the circle. So when Mowatt and the Wildcats were on the wrong end of a 1-0 loss against Monica Abbott and Tennessee on the second day, a title defense looked doubtful. But Mowatt won three elimination games Saturday and Sunday, including two against Danielle Lawrie and Washington, to earn a rematch against Tennessee in the best-of-three championship series. Given that Mowatt seemed to thrive on working herself in and out of jams, it only made sense Arizona lost the first game against the Lady Vols, only to see a pitcher with one of the best changeups of all time clinch the title with back-to-back shutouts. -- GH
Alabama coach Patrick Murphy is never afraid to buck conventional wisdom, sometimes starting a player or picking a pinch hitter based on a good run of swings in batting practice. But he outdid even himself with the bases loaded and his team trailing 2-0 against Arizona State in the World Series elimination game. Instead of letting All-American outfielder Brittany Rogers take her scheduled at-bat, Murphy sent Jazlyn Lunceford to the plate as a pinch hitter. As good as Rogers was, the speedy senior was a master of slap-hitting and Murphy wanted more than one run. A freshman from the Tuscaloosa area who had just 16 starts and two home runs entering the game, Lunceford responded with a grand slam, pausing long enough between third and home to give her coach a chest bump. Those were all the runs the Crimson Tide needed en route to a 6-2 win. -- GH
With a chance to become just the second SEC team to play for a national championship, the Gators and Crimson Tide met in one half of Sunday's elimination action. Alabama needed to beat Florida twice to advance, and it looked like it was halfway to that task with two outs and a 5-2 lead in the seventh inning of the first game. But after Florida's Megan Bush walked to load the bases, senior Ali Gardiner, who transferred to Florida after beginning her career at North Carolina-Wilmington, lofted an opposite-field grand slam for the walk-off win. -- GH
Megan Langenfeld was one of the best players in college softball during her senior season with UCLA. But for one postseason, and particularly one week in Oklahoma City, she might have been the best player in the world. All Langenfeld did was hit .706 with four home runs and earn three victories in the circle for a pitching-starved team. There were plenty to choose from, but none of her 12 hits that week proved more memorable than a walk-off home run to beat archrival Arizona in extra innings in the opening game of the championship series. A blister prevented Langenfeld from pitching the next night, but that blast from the first game seemed to take the wind out of the Wildcats' sails as the Bruins went on to win their 11th NCAA title. -- GH
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