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They Made Their Mark in The Year That Was : GARY TORGESON : Coach’s Legacy Is That of Winner

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Gary Torgeson lifted anchor and left Cal State Northridge five months ago, he left a legacy.

No other coach in Northridge history can match the number of victories posted by Torgeson, a former softball coach who resigned in July, less than two months after he led the Matadors to the championship game of the NCAA Women’s College World Series.

Torgeson, 52, who resigned to accept an offer to become a dean at Sacramento City College, earned 644 coaching victories at Northridge.

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He won eight games in three seasons as the Northridge football coach, and 636 in 13 years as the softball coach. Torgeson, who also played football at Northridge, has been associated with the university for 30 years.

Torgeson, a 1960 graduate of Cleveland High, was a football assistant at Northridge for 13 years before he took over as head coach.

His 16-year tenure with the football program marks the longest in that sport in school history.

But softball is where Torgeson made his mark.

He coached 13 of the 17 years since Northridge began competing in softball in 1978. In nine seasons at Division II under Torgeson’s tutelage, the Matadors won four national titles and placed worse than third in the nation only once.

With a long list of accomplishments, Torgeson saved his best for last.

In only the fourth season since moving up from Division II, Northridge posted a 52-10 record, won its second consecutive Western Athletic Conference title and finished runner-up to Arizona for the national title.

The Matadors lost to the Wildcats, 4-0, in the championship game.

Torgeson kept the Matadors focused despite the chaos following the January earthquake.

Team members were forced to find other housing. Portable trailers surrounding the softball field served as a constant reminder of the quake, which nearly claimed the lives of pitcher Amy Windmiller and third baseman Shannon Jones.

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Despite the distractions, Torgeson kept the team centered on its task.

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