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TWU Coach Dianne Baker To Receive NCAA Silver Anniversary Award

Texas Woman's University Head Softball Coach Dianne Baker has been selected as an NCAA Silver Anniversary Award recipient. The Silver Anniversary Award recognizes former student-athletes who have distinguished themselves since completing their college athletics careers 25 years ago.

Baker, a 1975 graduate of TWU and 1998 inductee to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame, is being honored for her accomplishments in softball, tennis, badminton, field hockey and soccer, plus her professional career achievements. She is representing the only NCAA Division II school in this year's group and is one of two women.

The other five honorees are Ulysses "Junior" Bridgeman (University of Louisville, men's basketball); Patrick C. Haden (University of Southern California, football); Lisa Rosenblum (Yale University, tennis); Capt. John Dickson Stufflebeem (United States Naval Academy, football); and John F. Trembley (University of Tennessee, men's swimming).

"I have always felt fortunate that I have been associated with two exceptional institutions," Baker said. "One university, TWU, educated me, and the other, Stephen F. Austin, set my career in motion and gave me the tools to succeed then and now. This award is a reflection of these two institutions and their commitment to the highest principles of educating student-athletes." Baker, who spent 15 years as a coach and athletics administrator at SFA, coached the Ladyjacks to the NCAA Division II softball championship in 1986. She has been inducted into the Ladyjack Hall of Fame and the TWU Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. Pioneer softball was reinstated in 1995-96 after a 16-year absence and Baker came back to TWU to build the program.

Since the first season in 1997, Baker has quickly brought national recognition back to TWU, the 1979 AIAW/ASA College World Series national champions. Last year, the Pioneers finished 47-17, were ranked as high as seventh in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches' Poll, and had two NCAA All-Americans, Cathy Jacobson (second Team) and Nickie Engelbrecht (third Team). In three seasons at TWU, she has a record of 96-53-1 (.643) and is four wins shy of her 600th career victory. Baker, with a 596-345-2 (.633) career record, is among the winningest active coaches in NCAA softball history.

"Being an athlete and a coach has always been my life's passion," Baker said. "I share this award with all those coaches who are dedicated to our young student-athletes. I thank the NCAA for this prestigious honor and I will treasure it always." TWU Director of Athletics Judy Southard said there has been an incredible excitement on campus since this announcement. "We are extremely proud of Dianne and the fact that she will be recognized by the NCAA for her contributions and achievements," Southard said. "The Silver Anniversary Award is a distinguished honor and Dianne is a member of an elite group. We're very excited that she is representing Texas Woman's University. People on campus know just how huge this honor really is."

The Silver Anniversary Awards will be given January 9 at the honors dinner during the NCAA Convention in San Diego. Past award winners include University of Tennessee Women's Basketball Coach Pat Summitt, Astronaut Sally Ride and television personality Harry Smith.