UMBC Softball threw its opening pitch in the spring of 1991 and it only took one season before the Retrievers posted a winning campaign. In fact, UMBC recorded ten consecutive winning seasons from 1994-2003. But, on May 16, 2002, under first-year head coach Joe French, Retriever softball set a famous "first' in school history and landed at Moment No. 24 in the #retriever50for50 countdown.
French guided UMBC to 44 wins in his first campaign, but UMBC was the No. 2 seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament. The UMBC pitching staff, led by Linsi Moy and Angie Amedro, allowed only one run in three tournament games and the Retrievers captured their second NEC title in three seasons.
In the opening round of the Columbia, S.C. NCAA regional, the Retrievers lost a heart-breaking 2-1 decision to 22nd-ranked Georgia and had to come back hours later to face Liberty.
But UMBC recorded the first win in a NCAA Division I Tournament for any Retriever team as they eliminated Liberty from the tournament with a 7-1 victory.
In the bottom of the first inning, UMBC drew first blood as Deanna Vecchio scored off of an RBI single by Jessica Graziano with two outs in the inning. An inning later, UMBC would go on a scoring spree, getting four runs. Abbie Kahn produced the lone RBI of the inning, as Liberty miscues permitted three other runs to cross.
Liberty would get their lone run in the top of the fourth inning, but UMBC would score one run in the bottom of the fifth, and again in the bottom of the sixth to put the game away.
Vecchio, the 2002 Northeast Conference Player of the Year, scored three runs in the game to lead the offense. Amedro, who earned the victory, and Kristin Dulay combined to strand 13 Liberty base-runners in the victory.
UMBC fell, 6-1, to Eastern Kentucky the next day, but set a school record with 47 (47-21) victories. The 2006 squad posted 46 wins, but the mark set by the 2002 squad continues to stand firm.
Three players from that squad – Vecchio (2010), Lisa Boone (2008) and Kristie Pickeral (2014) were all inducted into the UMBC Hall of Fame.
And Coach French, who recently retired from coaching, compiled 435 victories in 15 seasons at UMBC.