When she closes her eyes, Nina Lindenberg can still see the pitch that led to the most historic home run in Fresno State softball history.
She can still recall the sequence of pitches from previous at-bats against Arizona ace Nancy Evans and figuring out what to look for and when.
And of all things, Lindenberg certainly can still remember the result – a first-pitch swing in the sixth inning that connected for a solo home run over the left-field wall that brought all of her Fresno State teammates out of the dugout to wait for her at home plate to celebrate.
Lindenberg’s home run during that 1998 College World Series game proved to be the game’s only run as Fresno State defeated Arizona 1-0 and captured the first NCAA team championship in school history.
“It was my dream come true,” said Lindenberg, who will be inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday. “It’d be any player’s dream come true to hit the winning home run. I was just fortunate to be up to bat when it was needed and made a good swing.”
Along with Lindenberg, this year’s class includes:
▪ Former Fresno State receiver Bernard Berrian, who went on to play eight seasons in the NFL and played in Super Bowl XLI with the Chicago Bears vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
▪ Former Bulldogs running back Ron Rivers, who owned the school’s career rushing record from 1993 until 2012 and played six years in the NFL.
▪ Golfer Steve Menchinella, considered the “Godfather” of golf in Northern California.
▪ The 1968 and 1969 Fresno City College football teams that won state championships.
As of Wednesday evening, roughly 40 tickets remained for the Hall of Fame Awards Dinner.
Lindenberg, who played second base under legendary Fresno State coach Margie Wright, finished as a three-time All-American for the Bulldogs.
She’s also in the top 10 in almost every offensive category in Fresno State history.
And none of it ever would’ve happened had Lindenberg stayed at Long Beach State, where she played during her freshman season.
We played against Fresno State when I was at Long Beach and I remember the looks they had on their faces. Their game faces is what I dreamed of. They were focused; they were good. I wanted to be part of it.
Three-time All-American Nina Lindenberg, who played her first softball season Long Beach State before transferring to Fresno State
“We played against Fresno State when I was at Long Beach and I remember the looks they had on their faces,” Lindenberg said. “Their game faces is what I dreamed of. They were focused; they were good. I wanted to be part of it.
“I had a dream to become an Olympian and felt Coach Wright could help get me there. It was a great choice for me. When you go to Fresno State, you’re Bulldog bred. And I’m reminded every day of my time at Fresno State. I loved it there.”
Lindenberg stays in touch with many of her 1998 championship teammates, mostly through social media.
52 Consecutive scoreless innings thrown by Arizona pitchers before Nina Lindenberg hit a solo home run in the 1998 College World Series that propelled Fresno State to the national championship
She came up to Margie Wright Diamond last spring to see former teammate Laura Berg, now the coach at Oregon State, get her jersey retired by Fresno State.
Lindenberg also remains heavily involved in softball, working with three club teams and providing private lessons in the Inland Empire area of Southern California.
“It’s so awesome to be inducted,” Lindenberg said. “I was around great athletes, played for a coach who believed in me, believed in us. I’m proud of who I became by going to Fresno State.”
Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame
Enshrinement Awards Dinner: Thursday at the Fresno Convention Center-Valdez Hall
Event schedule: Social hour, 6 p.m.; dinner, 7 p.m.
Induction class: Bernard Berrian, football; Steve Menchinella, golf; Nina Lindenberg, softball; Ron Rivers, football; 1968 and 1969 Fresno City College state-champion football teams