Ball State Sports: A history of women’s success

Ball State Athletics, Photo Provided
Ball State Athletics, Photo Provided

1960: Ball State introduces women’s intercollegiate sports 

Basketball and field hockey became the first intercollegiate level sports for women at Ball State. Over the next decade, eight more sports were added, including lacrosse and badminton. With the addition of cross country in 1979, the number of women’s sports equaled the number of men’s sports. 

1970: Ball State wins 1st national championship in women’s sports

Patricia Bergman, 1972 Ball State graduate, became the first female to win a national championship at Ball State when she won the 100 individual medley and the 100 backstroke in the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, her first out of four national titles. Bergman set national records in both events, leading the Cardinals to a ninth-place finish in the 1971 NCAA Championships. She was inducted into the Ball State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.

1975: Softball advances to Women’s College World Series 

With an 11-5 regular season record under then-head coach Sandra Stultz, Ball State Softball made its second appearance in three seasons in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women World Series. The Cardinals lost to the Oregon College of Education — now Western Oregon University — 14-9 before defeating Northern State College 6-2. They were eliminated from the tournament with a 10-4 loss against Arizona. 

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1983: Field hockey begins run of sustained success

Ball State Field Hockey won its first out of 15 Mid-American Conference regular season titles under then-head coach Karen Fitzpatrick. During her tenure, Fitzpatrick led Ball State to 10 MAC Tournament Titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances. She also helped the Cardinals gather more than 150 wins against conference opponents before retiring in 1999. 

1994: Women’s volleyball earns 1st NCAA Tournament win

Capturing four straight Mid-American Conference Tournament Titles from 1992-95, the 1994 Cardinals finished with a 25-6 (17-0 MAC) record and earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory with a 3-2 first-round win against Illinois. The team was inducted into the Ball State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. 

1999: Jenkins makes history for Ball State Track and Field 

LaTasha Jenkins won the 1999 NCAA Championship in the women’s 200-meter dash with a time of 22.29 seconds — the fourth-fastest time from a collegiate student-athlete at the time of her appearance. Jenkins later went on to win a silver medal in the 200-meter dash in the 2001 World Championships in Athletics, finishing second to five-time Olympian Debbie Ferguson.

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2002-03: Cross country goes the distance

In 2002, Ball State Cross Country competed in the NCAA Championships meet for the first time in program history, finishing 27th out of 31 teams. The following year, the Cardinals won their first-ever Mid-American Conference Championship. 

2009: No. 12 women’s basketball upsets No. 5 Tennessee 

The Cardinals finished the 2008-09 season with a 26-9 (14-2 MAC) record, clinched the Mid-American Conference West Division and won their first-ever MAC Tournament Title. Earning an NCAA Tournament berth as a No. 12 seed, Ball State then upset two-time defending champion and fifth-seeded Tennessee 71-55 in the first round. 

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2011-15: Hague cements her name into the record books 

Jenna Hague, 2015 Ball State graduate, found consistent individual success during her tenure. Hague tied a Mid-American Conference record with six career individual tournament titles, set four school records and was the second golfer from Ball State selected for an NCAA Regional bid in 2014. Hague graduated with a career stroke average of 77.22, the second-best in program history.

2015-17: Soccer climbs its way to the top of the MAC

In addition to winning three straight Mid-American Conference West Division Titles, the Cardinals won back-to-back MAC regular season titles in 2015-16 for the first time since 2006-07. During the three-year span, Ball State finished with a combined 39-13-9 record.

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2016: Women’s tennis earns NCAA Championships bid 

Guided by head coach Max Norris, the Cardinals concluded the 2015-16 season with a program-best 20-6 (7-1 MAC) record, winning both a Mid-American Conference regular season and Tournament Title. Ball State also reached 20 wins for the first time in program history.

2020-21: Gymnastics breaks program scoring record 4 times

With a record of 11-4 (4-1 MAC), Ball State Gymnastics reached double-digit wins for the first time since 2002 in 2020. Under head coach Joanna Saleem, the Cardinals broke their scoring record on three separate occasions — Feb. 16 against Eastern Michigan (195.750), March 1 against Northern Illinois (195.800) and March 8 against North Carolina (195.850). Less than a year later, the Cardinals broke that same record again when Ball State scored 195.975 in a four-team meet Feb. 6. 

Contact Evan Weaver with comments at or on Twitter @evan_weaver7.


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