Sitting on 899 wins entering the 2020 season, Blinn College head softball coach Rick Church earned his 900th career victory when the No. 11 Buccaneers defeated Lake Land College, 7-6, in the season opener on Friday.
"It is a gratifying feeling to reach 900 wins and I am grateful for all the people who have supported me during all these years of coaching," Church said. "Twenty three teams contributed to this milestone, so there are a lot of players and assistant coaches to thank, particularly Coach Jami Ingram for sharing so many of those victories with me."
Church improved his career record to 900-376 in 23 seasons as a head coach at Blinn (1999-2020) and Arizona Western College (1990-1992). Church ranks 14th in all-time softball wins in the NJCAA.
"When I started at Blinn, I wanted to have a successful program with a good tradition and legacy," Church said. "Blinn has always been supportive of athletics and the softball program, and has been a great place for me to coach."
Church has been at the helm for 21 of the Blinn softball program's 25 seasons. He holds the most all-time victories at Blinn College with 826.
"When you think of Blinn College softball, you think of Rick Church," athletic director Scott Schumacher said. "Everyone in our athletic department congratulates him on this achievement. He has built our softball program to the powerhouse it is today."
Church has led the Buccaneers to 19 Region XIV Conference Tournament appearances and captured conference and regional titles in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and most recently in 2015. His team placed second in the nation in 2003, the best finish in program history.
Ingram has been with Church for a majority of his career, first as a Blinn softball player in 2000 and 2001, and is now in her 15th season as his head coach.
"I am so happy to see Coach Church reach this coaching milestone that he has humbly worked so hard for and that is very well deserved," Ingram said. "To be a part of this journey as both a student-athlete and an assistant coach has been an amazing experience. There is no doubt that my time spent with him and this program has made me a better coach and person, and I am so honored to be able to stand on the same field with him every day."
The duo has earned several coaching accolades together, including the 2019 Region XIV Coaching Staff of the Year after the Buccaneers went 44-15 and recorded a program-best 23-1 conference record.
With today's win, the Buccaneers hold a 1-0 record, and will continue the season against Odessa College at 1:30 p.m. and Snead State Community College at 4 p.m. today at the Chipola Invitational.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 41 NJCAA national championships since 1987.