The University of Michigan softball program began the 1985 season with a new head coach, as Carol Hutchins took over from Bob DeCarolis as the third head coach in program history. Coach “Hutch” arrived in Ann Arbor with an undergraduate degree from arch-rival Michigan State and a master’s degree in Physical Education from another Big Ten university, Indiana. She also brought several years of assistant coaching experience with her, and one season at the helm of the Ferris State University softball team.
Hutch’s first squad got started with a 6-6 record on a March 1985 visit to California. They lost both ends of a doubleheader at home against Toledo, but got off to a great start in Big Ten play by taking three of four at Northwestern. When all was said and done, the Wolverines finished with an overall record of 28-20 for 1985. Their Big Ten mark was 16-8, good for second place in the conference. They won three of four against Michigan State and managed a clean sweep of Ohio State.
The 1986 Wolverines once again opened the season on the west coast, with the highlights being wins over Oregon State and Oklahoma. Coach Hutchins’ second season ended with another winning season overall as the Wolverines won 32 and lost only 17. They did not do quite as well in the conference, coming in at 12-15 to finish in fifth place.
Things got better in 1987 for Michigan softball. They posted an overall record of 39-17, and improved their Big Ten record to 17-7, including winning three of four against Ohio State and all four of their games against Michigan State. This was good enough to move them back into second place in the conference. Michigan ended the season on a high note, taking first place in the Hardee’s National Invitational Tournament.
Michigan’s 1988 softball team spent March in California, then swept a doubleheader against Western Michigan in their Ann Arbor debut. They won three of four at Iowa, two at Michigan State, then repeated the three of four feat at Ohio State. Their 15-9 Big Ten mark was good for another second place finish, and their overall record for 1988 was 29 wins and 20 losses.
The 1989 team played the early part of their schedule in New Mexico and California. Some key wins came against Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas A & M. They also won the Bud Light National Invitational Tournament. In Big Ten conference play, the Wolverines went 16-8 to come in second place for the third consecutive season. Michigan’s overall 1989 record of 42-20 made it a perfect twelve of twelve winning seasons for the Wolverine softball program. Coach Carol Hutchins had taken the reins of a successful team and continued the success. Even greater things were yet to come, so stay tuned for further installments in this history of University of Michigan softball.