Laura Berg: Head Softball Coach
Laura Berg finished her fifth season as head coach at Oregon State in 2017.
Berg joined the Beavers’ staff as an assistant prior to the 2012 season after one of the most successful softball careers in NCAA and Team USA history. During the summer of 2012, she also served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team in its run at the ISF XIII World Women’s Championships in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, and has worked with Team USA in every summer since.
In her first year as head coach, Oregon State posted a 34-24 record, the most wins ever for a Beaver head coach in his or her first year. In the process, OSU secured its second straight season with at least 30 wins and an NCAA postseason berth. The Beavers tied a school record by batting .280 and also notched some big wins; including the school’s first-ever sweep of nationally-ranked Arizona and a road shutout of No. 10 California, its first top-10 road victory since 2007.
Berg followed her inaugural season up with another strong offensive showing in 2014, as the Beavers set another school record by batting .287. Berg led the Beavers to a number of big victories in the 2014 campaign, including a series win over No. 5/7 Arizona State and Oregon State’s first series win over Stanford since 2007.
Oregon State would continue to build on their strong offensive output in 2015, Berg’s third season. Under her tutelage, the Beavers hit .298, the second-best total in school history. Oregon State also scored 300 runs, one shy of a school record, en route to a 26-26 season.
In 2016, Berg led the Beavers back to the NCAA Regional for her second time as head coach, while also reaching 30-wins. Oregon State also recorded its highest batting average in program history with a .306 mark. Berg led eight Beavers to earn Pac-12 postseason honors, including her fifth student-athlete to NFCA Pacific Region honors.
Berg against led the Beavers back to the NCAA Regional in 2017 for her third time as head coach and for the first time in back-to-back years since 2012-13. Oregon State post some impressive wins over the Pac-12 Conference schedule, including winning its first game by run-rule over a top-10 league opponent. The Beavers run-ruled No. 8/9 UCLA for the first time in program history on April 13. The Beavers would go on to win the series for the first time ever after a walk-off homer by Natalie Hampton gave OSU the win. Oregon State also picked up a series win against No. 10/11 Utah. Senior pitcher, Taylor Cotton carried a no-hitter into the final out of game one, but could not finish it off.
Working mainly with the team’s slappers and outfielders, Berg helped put Oregon State back among the nation’s elite in 2012. The Beavers went 36-23 en route to their first NCAA Regional appearance since 2007. OSU batted .273, the fifth-best mark in program history, set team records for both RBI (269) and runs scored (301) and its 70 stolen bases tied for third all-time.
The Beavers’ renaissance in 2012 saw the team re-enter the national polls for the first time since 2008, defeat a total of 10 ranked opponents and claim a number of defining wins, including an extra-innings upset of No. 3 Arizona State and a road victory over No. 14 UCLA in April. OSU defeated its opponent by at least 10 runs on five occasions and scored more than 10 runs eight times, the second-highest totals in those respective categories in the 38-year history of the program.
Berg also helped tutor Dani Gilmore into becoming one of the best center-fielders in the Pac-12, as the Beaver freshman batted .322 with nine home runs and 33 RBI while posting a nearly flawless .990 fielding percentage. Gilmore was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team and was also tabbed All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention after her inaugural season in the Orange & Black.
Berg previously had two stints as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Fresno State, from 2000-03 and 2005-06, stepping down to train with the U.S. Women’s National Team in the interim. Joining the national team in 1994 as a center-fielder, she is the most decorated USA Softball Olympic athlete in history, helping her nation to three golds (1996 - Atlanta, 2000 - Sydney, 2004 - Athens) and one silver (2008 - Beijing). She has won 11 total medals, 10 gold, while competing for the U.S. in the Olympic Games, the ISF Women’s World Championship and the Pan American Games. Her eighth-inning hit in the gold medal game in the 2000 Sydney Olympics drove in the winning run to help the Stars and Stripes defeat Japan, 2-1.
As a player for the Bulldogs in the mid-1990s, Berg was a four-time All-American whose collegiate career was highlighted by a NCAA Championship title in 1998. She led her squad to three Women’s College World Series appearances, two Western Athletic Conference crowns and helped Fresno State to a 206-60 (.774) record in her four-year career.
Berg’s name is scattered throughout the NCAA, WAC and Fresno State record books in a number of offensive categories. She is second all-time in career hits in NCAA history (396), is 12th in runs (245) and her 25 career triples tie her for 23rd. Berg finished her career with a .414 batting average and by the time her senior season ended in 1998, she ranked first in school history in triples, runs, hits and stolen bases, while also finishing as the WAC’s career leader in triples, runs, hits, at bats, games played and total bases. She is the only Fresno State player to amass 300 or more career hits and also posted a 160-game defensive error-less streak in the field.
A native of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., she received her bachelor’s degree in commercial recreation from Fresno State in 1998.