Top 50 Hokie Spotlight: Angela Tincher O'Brien
When assembling a list of the Greatest Hokies of All Time, particularly when looking at the athletic realm, it is easy to immediately think of football and men’s basketball stars.
This is a fair thought to have. Tech has a rich history with some absolute legends, both on the football field and basketball court. However, in order to adequately construct this list, one must go a little bit deeper to find perhaps the most dominant Hokie athlete of all time: Softball Pitcher Angela Tincher O’Brien.
Granted, this is quite the bold claim to make, especially with the likes of Bruce Smith and Michael Vick gracing the VT Sports Hall of Fame. However, despite perhaps not having the same legacy post-college as those two, Tincher’s Hokie athletic résumé is right on par with the two legends.
To highlight Tincher’s athletic achievements while in maroon and orange (from 2005-2008), the only question is this: where to begin? For starters, she was a three-time All-American, making the Second Team after her sophomore season, while making the First Team after both her junior and senior seasons.
In her four seasons, she also won ACC Player of the Year twice, ACC Pitcher of the Year three times, was First Team All-ACC three times, and was nominated for the 2008 ESPY for Best Female College Athlete.
Off the field, Tincher showed incredible academic acumen as well, being named a 2007 Second Team Academic All-American, as well as a 2008 First Team Academic All-American by ESPN the Magazine.
Dominant is truly the best word to describe Tincher’s career in Blacksburg. In her career, she pitched 1116.1 innings with a 0.78 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, and 2149 strikeouts, all four of which are Virginia Tech records. She also holds VT records for wins, shutouts, strikeout ratio, opponent batting average, and no-hitters, as well as single-game and single-season strikeouts. She currently ranks third all-time in NCAA Division I history for career strikeouts.
Tincher led the Hokies to their first four NCAA tournament appearances in each of her four seasons, as well as their first Women’s College World Series appearance in 2008, their first two ACC Tournament Championships in 2007 and 2008, and their first ACC Regular Season Championship in 2007.
Tincher’s career is riddled with spectacular performances. Here are a few of the many worth noting: her first career no-hitter as a freshman against Maryland, her 19 strikeout performance in seven innings (meaning only two of the opponent's outs were not strikeouts) against UNCG, her 26 strikeouts in an 11-inning barn-burner against Nevada, and another 19 strikeout game in her final college appearance, a loss to No. 1 Florida in the WCWS.
But perhaps Tincher’s most phenomenal performance is one that is truly unparalleled across sports.
Leading into her senior season, Tincher had the opportunity to try out for the United States Olympic Team that would compete in Beijing in 2008. Sadly, she was not one of the players chosen to represent her country in the Olympics.
On March 26, 2008, Virginia Tech faced off against the Olympic Team in an exhibition. Tincher was anything but intimidated, throwing yet another no-hitter and striking out 10 with only one walk. The Hokies won by a score of 1-0.
After not being chosen to join their team, the bound and determined Tincher had only allowed one member of the future Silver Medalists to even reach first base. There have truly never been any other Hokie performances like it.
The loss ended Team USA’s 185-game pre-Olympic exhibition win streak and was their first loss ever to a collegiate program.
Tincher enjoyed a brief professional career before joining the coaching ranks, including returning to Blacksburg as the Hokies’ Pitching Coach from 2014-2018.
Her number 1 is the only retired number in Hokie softball history. She was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2018, her first year eligible.