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This Week in Fastpitch: Hutchins Reaches Elite Milestone

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Hutch Joins Elite Company 

She joined the NFCA Hall of Fame in December, and now, nearly three months later, Carol Hutchins has joined another elite group – the 1,000-career win club. 

Hutchins became just the sixth Division I coach, seventh in NCAA history, to reach the plateau with a sweep of Florida State on Feb. 28. 

In her 23rd season at UM, Hutchins has won 977 games, combining with her 23 wins during a one-year stint at Ferris State to put her at the milestone. 

Gasso Collects No. 600; Leads Sooners to Strong Start 

Oklahoma head coach Patti Gasso claimed her 600th career win last weekend at the Palm Springs Classic in leading the Sooners to a 16-0 start that ranks as the best start in the program’s history. 

Beginning her 13th season as head coach of the Sooners, Gasso led the Sooners to five Women’s College World Series appearances in the last seven years. 

As a result of the strong start, OU has moved back into the top 10 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll, coming in this week at No. 9. 

Lady Vols Unanimous No. 1 

Tennessee, off to a perfect start on the season, earned the program’s first No. 1 national ranking two weeks ago. 

This week’s USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll saw the Lady Vols continue their run at No. 1, as they were the only team to garner all the first-place votes. 

The last squad to sweep the first-place accolades during the regular season was Arizona during the 2004 campaign. 

Base Thiefs 

Arizona is a dangerous team on the base paths, and that is no different this season as the Wildcats have already stolen 35 bases. At the current pace, the Wildcats are on mark to steal 150 bases, bettering the school record by 14. 

Apparently the way to knock off speed is with power. All three of Arizona’s losses this season have come by one-run margins and all by an opponent home run. 

Tincher Hurls Perfection 

This past weekend at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, Virginia Tech’s Angela Tincher hurled a perfect game in a 4-0 win over Lehigh. 

The perfect outing was the first of her stellar career and the seventh no-hitter for her as a Hokie. It was just the fourth by a Virginia Tech pitcher, and she joins former Georgia hurler Michelle Green as the only pitchers to toss one in the Leadoff Classic. 

More Leadoff Classic Record Book Additions 

Virginia Tech’s Caroline Stolle added her name to the record books as well at the Leadoff Classic, becoming the 14th player in Leadoff Classic history to hit two home runs in the same game. Ironically, the two blasts came in the Lehigh game as well. 

Mississippi State added its name to the record books as the Bulldogs closed out the opening day of action with a 23-0 win over Seton Hall. The 23 runs were the most by a single team in the tournament’s 12-year history, bettering the previous mark of 21 set at last year’s tournament by Nebraska in a win over Illinois. 

Ducks Flying High 

Oregon has started the season on a high note, getting off to a 15-1 start that has moved the Ducks into the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll at No. 22. 

The Ducks have not lost since the opening game of the year, reeling off 15 straight to set a school record for consecutive victories. 

Mount Olive on Top 

Mount Olive College head coach Jaime Kylis-Higginbotham has turned the softball program at the school around. 

In her fifth year as the head coach, she took a team that won six games her first season and molded it into a program that won 26 games last season. With a veteran team of her own players, she has the school off to a 9-1 start, the best start for the program since 2000. 

Not a bad record for someone who had a baby on Jan. 18 and started the season a month later. 

New Conference, Same Results 

Humboldt State made the move this season to the California Collegiate Athletic Association, but the Lumberjacks find themselves in familiar territory — on top. 

HSU has started the season 11-1 and 2-0 in the conference, putting them in first place through the first few weeks of the season. 

NFCA Division III Leadoff Heads to the Beach 

The NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic will be the first opportunity to see how the national picture might unfold this season, as the tournament will be held Mar. 9-11. 

Previously held in LaGrange, Ga., this year’s tournament will be the first Leadoff Classic held in Panama City Beach, Fla., at Frank Brown Park. 

The tournament could very well feature a rematch of last year’s NCAA Division III Championship, as national title winner Rutgers-Camden is in the field along with national runner-up and 2004 and 2005 champion St. Thomas. 

Coe, Ithaca and Muskingum will compete in the 24-team field after earning berths in last year’s national tournament. The tournament has been a good indicator of who might advance to the national championship, as Moravian, also in this year’s field, won the last tournament in 2004 en route to a national runner-up finish.