Michigan’s Carol Hutchins retires as winningest NCAA softball coach

Michigan coach Carol Hutchins led the Wolverines to 29 NCAA tournament appearances in 38 seasons. (Alec Cohen/USA TODAY Sports)

Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins announced her retirement Wednesday after 38 seasons at the helm for the Wolverines.

Hutchins ends her career as the winningest coach in NCAA softball history. Through 39 seasons — her tenure at Michigan plus one season at Ferris State — she compiled 1,707 victories and a career winning percentage of .755.

“I want to begin by expressing that today I am filled with pride, love, humility and gratitude,” Hutchins said. “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.

“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.”

A member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Hutchins helped guide Michigan to a NCAA championship in 2005, making it the first program east of the Mississippi River to capture a national title.

Under Hutchins, the Wolverines won 22 Big Ten championships, 10 Big Ten tournament titles and made 29 trips to the NCAA tournament — 12 of which resulted in Women’s College World Series appearances.

“As a coach, my greatest joy and the ultimate reward has not been measured in wins and championships,” she said, thanking all of the student athletes and people who had joined her during her tenure. “Success is measured by the many, many people who fill your life.

“For today, goodbye. For tomorrow, good luck. And forever, go Blue!”

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel called Hutchinson a “force.”

“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,” Manuel said in a statement. “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.”