Cal went to Austin, Texas to bring home its new head softball coach.

Texas assistant Chelsea Spencer, who grew up on the Bay Area and was part of four Women’s College World Series teams at Cal, replaces Diane Ninemire, who retired in March after 32 seasons due to health reasons.

Spencer, 37, started 277 games at shortstop for Ninemire’s teams, including on the national championship squad during her freshman season of 2002. She was twice named to all-WCWS teams and was an All-American as a junior in 2004.

"I am very excited to return to Berkeley," Spencer said. "As an alum and a Bay Area native, I have an immense amount of love and pride for this school and region. My experience at Cal was amazing and I can't wait to come home.”

Spencer was born in Oakland and attended Arroyo High in San Lorenzo. She spent the past two seasons on the coaching staff at the University of Texas, following six seasons as an assistant at Oregon.

“I am absolutely thrilled that Chelsea will be coming home to Berkeley to be the next head coach of our softball program," Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said. "As a player at Cal, she helped us to the very top of collegiate softball, and in the years since her graduation, she has continued to build for this opportunity to lead our team.

“Chelsea's passion and enthusiasm for Cal and Cal softball continues to shine through. She brings a well thought-out, data driven approach to the game and has a clear vision for the future of the program. I can't wait for her to get started.”

Former Cal pitching star Jolene Henderson, who was part of an alumni panel that provided feedback during the search process, said Spencer was a clear choice as the Bears’ next coach.

”When she shared her vision for Cal, it made me wish I could put on the Cal jersey again. I am excited to see Cal softball chase down new challenges on the field and in the classroom,” Henderson said. "Chelsea is inspiring on and off the field, and I look forward to watching that passion spread into the new era of Cal softball.”

Texas coach Mike White also endorsed Cal’s choice

"We are excited for coach Spencer as she enters a new chapter in her coaching career. Ever since day one as my assistant, Chelsea has dreamed of being the next head coach at Cal,” he said.

“She is a loyal alum having grown up in the Bay Area, and her family are all from the area. It is truly a great story, and Cal is getting one of the top assistants in the country.”

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo

Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Cal Sports Report on SI. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.