Conveniently located just below the Whitworth Pine Bowl and adjacent to the Whitworth Soccer field is Diana Marks field, home of the Whitworth Softball team. This field was made available for use beginning in spring of 2000. Considered to be a state-of-the-art fields in the Northwest Conference, Diana Marks field consists of outdoor batting cages, a clubhouse with changing rooms for both teams, bleachers to accommodate fan seating, a press box, and an extended scoreboard located just behind the fence in right field. The field also includes below-ground dugouts and a three-foot warning track along the edge of the field.
The softball field honors a woman who made a significant impact on women’s athletics at Whitworth and in the region. Diana Marks coached at Whitworth from 1957-1984 and also served as Academic Chair of the Physical Education Department from 1977-1987. Diana Marks is the “winningest” coach in the history of the college. For 18 years, Diana coached volleyball, basketball, and tennis in the same year. One of her basketball teams defeated Washington State in 1968.
Diana Marks was instrumental in changing attitudes towards women’s athletics. At a time when athletic opportunities for women consisted of Play Days and intramurals, Coach Marks worked to provide competitive athletic outlets for Whitworth’s female students. In fact, Whitworth was blackballed by the Western Society of Physical Education for College Women for competitive scheduling that was “too much like varsity.” With superior teams and competitive schedules, Diana proved that women could excel in sports and remain feminine.
Success on the field for the Whitworth Softball team was difficult to come by. However, the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons have been the most successful in school history. The Pirates won three consecutive conference championships, all led by head coach Cristal Brown along with assistants Randy Clark and Bob Castle. In 2016, the Pirates received an at-large bid into the NCAA regional tournament, which was hosted at Diana Marks field. In the 2017 season, the Pirates hosted and won the Northwest Conference tournament that gave them an automatic bid into the NCAA regional tournament.
Perhaps the greatest softball player in Whitworth history was Jo Sonnett. In 2016, she was the first Whitworth softball player to enter Whitworth’s Athletics Hall of Fame, the Heritage Gallery. Sonnett holds virtually every school record for pitching in Pirate history. In 2006 Sonnett finished 19-8 in the circle with a 1.94 ERA while averaging 8.7 strikeouts per seven innings. She was a primary reason Whitworth earned it’s first-ever NCAA Division III playoff berth that season.