Berg, Laura
Berg, quite simply, might be the winningest and most decorated athlete in Fresno State history, an athlete whose name is synonymous with victory in international competition. _She represented the United States on four Olympic teams as an outfielder, returning home with gold medals three times and a silver last year. In Sydney, Berg found herself in the middle of the medal-winning rally. In the eighth inning of the championship game against Japan, Berg hit the deep drive to left field that Shiori Koseki gloved but dropped, enabling pinch-runner Jennifer McFalls to score the winning run. _Berg had one of the biggest hits for the U.S. team at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The gold-medal final against China was scoreless in the third when Berg singled ahead of Dot Richardson's two-out, two-run homer, the deciding blow in the 3-1 U.S. victory. Berg hit .273 to rank fourth on the team. Berg says she loves thinking about the final out of the 1996 Games, and seeing all of the flashbulbs going off. She came sprinting in from center field when Lisa Fernandez struck out the final batter. Berg said she felt like the run in took forever, and by the time she got there, the celebratory pile was already tipping over. _Berg is quite superstitious. She double braids her hair for games -- something she started doing at age 14 -- and never uses batting gloves. Stepping in for her first at-bat of a game, she erases the batter's box line with her cleats. She also writes her twin sister's initials on both shoes -- RB, for Randi Berg. Randi graduated from Fresno State University in 1997, one year before Laura, who took 1996 off to train for Atlanta. _At Fresno State, Berg guided the Bulldogs to their first NCAA championship in 1998. She became the only player in school history with three consecutive 100-hit seasons (1995, '97, and 1998). She also finished No. 2 in NCAA history with 396 career hits. Berg batted .414 as a collegian and the Bulldogs were 206-60 with her in the lineup. Before college, Berg earned 11 varsity letters at Santa Fe (Calif.) High School, four each in softball and basketball plus three in volleyball. She was a four-time league MVP in softball. _Berg's other international accomplishments include playing on four world championships teams, three Pan American gold-medal winner and two World Cup champion teams. In 2007, she received the honor of carrying the flag on behalf of the United States at the closing ceremonies. _In 2004, at the Athens Olympics, she started in eight of nine games and hit .368 with seven hits and four runs while playing errorless ball in the outfield.