Carol Hutchins, the legendary University of Michigan softball head coach, announced Aug. 24 that she is retiring after 38 seasons leading the Wolverines.
Hutchins, who recently completed her 39th overall season as a head coach, is the winningest coach in NCAA softball history with 1,707 victories and a career winning percentage of .755 (1,707-555-5).
"Words can not adequately describe my appreciation for all that Carol Hutchins has done for the University of Michigan, the sport of softball, nor for the impact she has had on the lives of countless young people," said the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics Warde Manuel. "I also cannot succinctly articulate my personal sadness at her decision to retire from coaching while being so happy that Hutch can enjoy life beyond the game. Hutch is a force who elevated not only the sport of softball but generations of female athletes as a staunch advocate of equality. She has been a tireless fundraiser for societal causes, including the American Cancer Society, and I know that she will continue to impact lives beyond the game of softball. Carol Hutchins is a legend."
"I want to begin by expressing that today I am filled with pride, love, humility and gratitude," said Hutchins. "I have served as the head coach of Michigan softball for 38 years, and I am incredibly grateful to the university for this opportunity of a lifetime. I will forever bleed blue.
"There are countless people to thank, and I want to start with Bob DeCarolis for bringing me to Ann Arbor 40 years ago, and giving me this unbelievable opportunity. I have served nine athletic directors and want to express my gratitude to each of them for their continued commitment toward the growth of women's athletics and softball here at Michigan. I especially want to thank Warde Manuel and Lisa Savoury for their tremendous support for me personally and for our program.
"I am most thankful for the relationships that this sport has given me. I want to express my respect for and admiration to all of my coaching colleagues and rivals, as the competition has made softball one of the greatest sports in college athletics. I thank everyone who has ever served in a support role for Michigan softball, from our athletic trainers and strength coaches to academic counselors, equipment managers, field crew, and the list goes on. They have contributed greatly to our success, and their commitment is so appreciated. I especially want to thank the staffs that served Michigan with me over many years but in particular my longtime assistant coaches Jennifer Brundage and Bonnie Tholl, whose loyalty and commitment is unparalleled. I am forever indebted to and share all success with them.
"To the fans of Alumni Field, you are the best, and I will love you all forever. Thank you for creating one of the best environments in college softball. And to all the Women of Michigan softball, the alumnae who built this program since 1978, I am so honored to have been a part of your lives and journeys. You don't go to Michigan for four years, you go to Michigan for life. As a coach, my greatest joy and the ultimate reward has not been measured in wins and championships. Success is measured by the many, many people who fill your life.
"For today, goodbye. For tomorrow, good Luck. And forever, Go Blue!"
Hutchins guided Michigan to the 2005 NCAA championship, becoming the first program east of the Mississippi River to capture the national title, to highlight a career that included 22 Big Ten Conference championships, 10 Big Ten Tournament crowns, 29 NCAA Tournament appearances and 12 Women's College World Series appearances.
She was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2006.
Hutchins reclaimed the top spot as the NCAA's all-time winningest softball coach on Feb. 25, 2022, with a 3-0 win against Northern Kentucky to pass Arizona's Mike Candrea's record of 1,674 career wins. She previously held the top spot for more than two years after surpassing former Fresno State coach Margie Wright's longtime record of 1,457 wins in 2016. Hutchins also is the winningest coach -- male or female -- in Michigan Athletics history.
"Hutch" has been a part of the Michigan softball program since 1983, when she joined the staff as an assistant coach under Bob DeCarolis following a single year as head coach of Ferris State University. She moved into the head coach position in 1985.
Hutchins never suffered a losing season and guided the Wolverines to numerous records, including a 65-7 campaign in its 2005 NCAA championship season, which culminated with a dramatic 10-inning win over UCLA in game three of the WCWS championship series.
Michigan returned to the WCWS championship series in 2015, ultimately settling for NCAA runner-up honors after falling to Florida in the rubber game. The 2015 Wolverines boasted a 60-8 record, led the nation with 118 home runs, also set program records in runs scored (540) and RBI (504), and boasted a program-best five NFCA All-Americans.
Hutchins' squads captured 22 Big Ten regular-season titles from 1995-2021, including nine in a row from 2008-16, and 10 Big Ten Tournament crowns, sweeping the conference championships seven times (1995, '96, '98, 2002, '05, '15, '19). Michigan has qualified for the NCAA Tournament 29 times, including each of the last 27 years, and made 12 appearances in the NCAA Women's College World Series (1995-98, 2001-02, '04-'05, '09, '13, '15-'16) – tied for the sixth WCWS appearances most in NCAA history.
She was named Big Ten Coach of the Year on 18 occasions and garnered eight NFCA Regional Coach of the Year and a pair of NFCA National Coach of the Year (1995, 2005) honors. The Hutchins-led Michigan coaching staff was also named Speedline/NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year in 2005 and earned 15 NFCA Great Lakes Region Coaching Staff of the Year honors. In 2016, Hutchins was named the inaugural recipient of espnW's Pat Summitt Coaching Award, presented to the coach who "exemplifies the character and courage" of the legendary basketball coach who led the Tennessee Lady Vols.
The Wolverines received 69 total All-America citations under Hutchins, including 23 first-team nods, while 14 earned Academic All-America accolades. Michigan players also claimed 20 Big Ten Player of the Year, 14 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and 13 Big Ten Freshman of the Year awards over her tenure with 212 All-Big Ten and 202 Academic All-Big Ten citations.
Before becoming Michigan's third softball coach, Hutchins spent one year as the head coach at Ferris State University (1982). While at Ferris, she led the Bulldogs to the NCAA Division II National Tournament and was selected Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
A graduate of Michigan State University, Hutchins was a two-sport letterwinner in basketball and softball (1976-79) and helped guide the Spartans to the 1976 AIAW national softball championship. In 2003, she was chosen as the recipient of the Nell Jackson Award, considered the highest honor the Michigan State Varsity "S" Club can give a female alumna for professional accomplishments and community service, and was inducted into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021. She also is an inductee to the Greater Lansing Athletic Hall of Fame (2000) and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame (2011).
Hutchins founded the Michigan Softball Academy in 2010 in conjunction with the program's annual "Pink Game." A one-night,` on-field clinic for adults that raises funds for the American Cancer Society, the Wolverines have raised more than $1.5 million since the program's original Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk participation in 2007.
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