The Michigan softball program entered the 1990s with a perfect run of 12 consecutive winning overall seasons since the team began play in 1978. Carol Hutchins took over as coach in 1985 and built on the solid foundation that two previous coaches, Gloria Soluk and Bob DeCarolis, had provided.
1990 got underway with the usual trip to warmer parts of the country. The Wolverines endured a couple of prolonged losing streaks, but also posted some impressive victories including two wins against the Oklahoma Sooners. In the Big Ten, they took three of four against in-state rival Michigan State. In the end, the string of winning seasons remained intact but just barely. The 1990 Wolverines finished 29-27 in all games and an even 12-12 in the conference.
The 1991 squad looked to improve, and got off to a solid start in the early non-conference part of the schedule. Among the highlights was a win over Nebraska. They improved in both overall record at 36-19 and conference record at 15-9, finishing third in the Big Ten.
Michigan took further steps forward in 1992. They knocked off both Nebraska and Oklahoma in the non-conference schedule to get some momentum going. In the Big Ten, the 1992 Wolverines posted a record of 22 wins and 6 losses, good for their first ever conference championship. Another goal reached for the first time was a bid to the NCAA national tournament. Although they lost two games in a row to regional host Arizona, it was still a great achievement that pointed the way to bigger things to come.
Following an up-and-down February and March of 1993, Michigan got rolling and repeated as Big Ten champions with a 21-5 league record. The 1993 team’s overall mark was 46-13, establishing new program highs for both wins and winning percentage in a single season. This earned the Wolverines another shot at the national championship, and for the first time the NCAA regional would be played in Ann Arbor. Michigan beat Bowling Green for their first ever win in the NCAAs, then dropped two games to Southwestern Louisiana to end the season.
Michigan’s 1994 softballers did not do quite as well as the previous two seasons’ teams, yet still kept the perfect string of overall winning seasons going as they won 34 and lost 26. Their 18-10 conference record placed them in a tie for third in the Big Ten.
The first half of the 1990s saw Michigan softball continue to be successful under the guidance of Coach Carol Hutchins. And as a new century fast approached, even greater things were about to happen. Check back here for the latter half of the 1990s, in Michigan softball history.