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Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins — the winningest coach in NCAA history — announced her retirement Wednesday after 38 seasons at the helm of the Wolverines. 

“I want to begin by expressing that today I am filled with pride, love, humility and gratitude,” Hutchins said in a release. “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 amassed 1,707 career victories with a .755 winning percentage throughout her 39 year career as head coach, which included a one-year stint at Ferris State. She led Michigan to its only national championship in 2005, along with 22 Big Ten Conference championships, 29 NCAA Tournament appearances and 12 trips to the Women’s College World Series. 

Beyond her on-field success, Hutchins established herself as a trailblazer and pioneer for all women in sports. As a member of Michigan State’s women’s basketball team, Hutchins orchestrated a class action lawsuit against the university for discriminating against athletes based on gender, a direct violation of Title IX. The case was appropriately named Hutchins vs. Board of Trustees of Michigan State University

At Michigan, Hutchins has helped raise more than $1.5 million in funding for the fight against breast cancer. 

“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,” Michigan Athletic Director Warde 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.”