Head coach Carol Hutchins discusses the evolution of her team, senior leadership and the goals of this week's tournament -- scoring runs, key hits, Sara Driesenga (Feb. 21, 2013).
Head coach Carol Hutchins recently completed her 29th season at the helm of the University of Michigan softball team in 2013, where she has molded the Wolverines into one of the elite programs in college softball. On December 8, 2006, Hutchins was inducted into the NFCA Hall of Fame in recognition of her coaching success and the indelible mark she has left on both Michigan and collegiate softball.
The hall of fame induction kicked off a series of career milestones that would come for Hutchins during subsequent campaigns. On February 28, 2007, she became just the seventh coach in NCAA softball history -- and the sixth in Division I -- to reach 1,000 career wins. Two months later, on April 29, Michigan picked up a home doubleheader sweep vs. Wisconsin (2-1, 2-0) to net Hutchins her 1,000th career win at Michigan, strengthening her position as U-M's winningest coach in athletic department history. On March 29, 2013 the Wolverines defeated Penn State 7-4 giving Hutchins her 1,300th career victory. She became just the third NCAA softball coach to top the 1,300-win plateau. She is now the third-winningest coach in collegiate softball history and the ranks second in career wins among active coaches.
In 2013, U-M won an unprecedented sixth consecutive Big Ten championship after completing conference play with a 20-2 record, the seventh time the Wolverines have topped 20 wins in conference play. Sierra Romero became just the second player in league history to win Big Ten Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year (joining U-M's Sara Griffin in 1995). Seven players in all earned All-Big Ten honors, including six on the first team, and Hutchins was voted Coach of the Year by her colleagues for the 14th time and third season in a row. Michigan earned a berth in the Women's College World Series for the 10th time in program history and concluded the season with a 51-13 record.
"Hutch" has been a part of the Michigan softball program since 1983 when she joined the staff as an assistant coach under Bob DeCarolis. She moved into the head coach position in 1985 and, in each of her 29 head coaching seasons, has continued Michigan's tradition of softball success. Michigan has never suffered a losing season in all of Hutch's years with the program.
Hutchins has led the Wolverines to the Women's College World Series in 10 of the last 18 seasons, and, in 2005, the Maize and Blue became the first program east of the Mississippi River to claim the NCAA national championship when it defeated UCLA. Michigan's record-setting 2005 season was the culmination of two decades of dedication for Hutchins and her current and former players and coaches. In that magical season, Michigan set records in a number of categories, including:
First softball national championship A program-best 65 wins A program-best 32 consecutive victories (spanning 47 days, from Feb. 13 to March 30) First No. 1 ranking (March 22) First No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament First victory over a top-ranked opponent (6-2 win over No. 1 Arizona) Michigan's 103 home runs tied for second on the NCAA all-time single-season home run list
The 2005 season took on added significance when Hutchins was selected to be included in a pool of coaches for USA Softball's Summer Tour. Hutchins helped select both the USA Softball National and Elite teams and was appointed head coach for the Elite Team at the Canada Cup (July 2-10) and made assistant coach for the National Team at the Japan Cup (July 26-August 5). The Elite Team posted a 10-1 record at the Canada Cup to earn the silver medal, while winning the Sendai Series at the Japan Cup.
Hutchins' squads have also captured 16 Big Ten regular-season titles, 15 NCAA Regional crowns and eight Big Ten Tournament championships. She has earned 14 Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year honors, eight NFCA Regional Coach of the Year awards and a pair of NFCA National Coach of the Year honors. The Hutchins-led Michigan coaching staff has garnered Great Lakes Region Coaching Staff of the Year honors in nine of the last 12 seasons (1998, '99, 2001, '02, '04, '05, '08, '09, '10) and was named Speedline/NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year for the first time in 2005.
Under Hutchins' guidance, the Michigan softball program has claimed 16 of the last 21 Big Ten regular-season championships and earned trips to 20 NCAA National Championship Tournaments (1992, '93, '95, '96, '97, '98, '99, 2000, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12, '13). U-M advanced to the NCAA Women's College World Series in 1995, '96, '97, '98, 2001, '02, '04, '05, '09 and '13. Michigan has finished either first, second or third in the Big Ten Conference standings in 27 of Hutchins' 29 seasons and has been among the league's top five teams in each of her head coaching years.
The Wolverines have received 52 total All-America citations under Hutchins, including 15 first-team nods, while 10 have earned Academic All-America accolades. Michigan players have been named Big Ten Player of the Year 17 times, Big Ten Pitcher of the Year 13 times and Big Ten Freshman of the Year 12 times during her coaching tenure. Wolverine players have accumulated 122 Academic All-Big Ten awards, 160 All-Big Ten citations and 102 All-Mideast or All-Great Lakes Region certificates. Four former Hutchins-coached Wolverines -- Jenny Allard, Vicki Morrow, Alicia Seegart and Bonnie Tholl -- were named to the Big Ten's All-Decade (1990s) team -- the most from any conference school.
Hutchins' players have excelled at the international level, including medal performances by Samantha Findlay, Tiffany Haas, Jessica Merchant and Jennie Ritter during the 2005 Canada Cup and International Cup. Findlay and Ritter joined Hutchins again in 2006 as the Wolverine trio led the USA squad to gold at the World University Games. Former Michigan players Morrow (1987) and Patti Benedict (1995) were members of U.S. Pan American Games teams, while recent graduates Maggie Viefhaus and Nikki Nemitz contributed to the Team USA's gold-medal performance at the 2009 Pan American Qualifier in Maracay, Venezuela. Viefhaus also claimed gold with the USA junior team at the 2007 Junior Pan Am Championships in Manaubo, Puerto Rico and again at the 2007 Junior World Championships in Enschede, Netherlands. In 2012, Jordan Taylor and Amanda Chidester represented the US on the Women's National team during the USA's World Cup of Softball gold medal run. Current Wolverines Sierra Romero and Sierra Lawrence were selected to play on the Junior Women's National team that will compete during the summer of 2013.
Hutchins and the University of Michigan have hosted 18 NCAA Regional Championships (1993, '95, '96, '97, '98, '99, 2000, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '13) and five Super Regionals (2005, '08, '09, '10, '13), an honor showcasing the Wolverine program, facilities and University on a national level. Michigan captured a regional crown in 13 of those host years and has 15 regional titles in all.
For the last several years, every season has brought prestigious milestones to coach Hutchins and the U-M program. On March 31, 2000, Hutchins moved to the top of the all-time win list for University of Michigan coaches -- female or male -- with win No. 638, a 1-0 victory vs. Indiana in the conference season-opening game. Hutchins became the Wolverines' all-time wins leader among female sport coaches when she posted U-M win No. 600 with a 6-3 victory vs. Minnesota on April 11, 1999. Hutchins added win No. 700 with a 2-1 win over Oakland University on April 3, 2001.
The 2009 squad brought Michigan its ninth appearance in the WCWS and first since the national championship run in 2005. In 2004, the Wolverines posted a ninth-straight 40-win season, advancing to the WCWS for the seventh time in 10 years. During the 2003 season, Hutchins became just the 14th coach in NCAA Division I softball history to reach the 800-win plateau with a 2-1 win over Wisconsin on April 12, 2003. The 2002 Wolverines completed the trifecta as Big Ten regular-season and tournament champions as well as NCAA Regional champs, sending the Maize and Blue to its sixth WCWS.
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. Hutchins was an assistant coach at Indiana University (1981) -- under legendary coach Gayle Blevins -- and at Michigan (1983-84).
A 1979 graduate of Michigan State University, Hutchins displayed her athletic talents in both basketball and softball (1976-79), helping the Spartans to the 1976 Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women 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. She was also inducted into the Greater Lansing Athletic Hall of Fame in July 2000.
Hutchins founded the Michigan Softball Academy in 2010 in conjunction with the program's annual "Pink Game." The academy is a one-night on-field clinic for adults that raises funds for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer organization. In 2013, the academy set new benchmarks for participants (216) and fundraising ($80,589). Since partnering with the American Cancer Society in 2007 for the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, the Michigan softball program has raised more than $300,000.
Hutchins holds a master's degree in physical education from Indiana (1981).