Senior Angela Tincher's name has been synonymous with Virginia Tech softball, especially after several huge feats. Tincher, the only pitcher to record a no-hitter - never mind a win - against the U.S. National team on its Bound-4-Beijing Tour this year, passed the 2,000-strikeout mark just this past week. She took a few minutes to chat with theACC.com about her softball career, the U.S. win and expectations for the next weekend's ACC Softball Championship.
When did you start playing softball?
I started in the Little League system when I was nine. No one specific (got me into it). I think they were talking about sign-ups for it at school so I bugged my parents until they let me sign up.
What other teams have you competed on leading up to your college career?
I played Little League for a couple of years and then with the Roanoke Scrappers, a 14-and-under travel team, before a few years with their 18-and-under squad. Then I played with the Shamrocks out of northern Virginia for a year before I came to college.
Have you played any other sports in the past?
I played a couple of years of volleyball in middle school, but not too seriously.
Who is your most influential role model?
Probably my dad, because he's always been so supportive of me. I think he knew I had the potential to do a lot of things, but I don't know if I really believed him for awhile. I thought he was just being my dad! He was always one to make me feel like I could do a lot of things that I didn't think I could.
What is your most memorable moment in sports, either as an athlete or as a sports fan?
Before this year, winning the ACC Championship last year, but after this year it has to be the game against the U.S. Olympic team.
Can you describe what was going through your mind during that game?
A bit of shock. At first when I held them back for a couple of innings, I was like, "Ok, that was fun," and was just waiting. Not that I wanted them to catch up, but they're such a good team that even when they start slow, they always have that one inning where they let go of everything. I was trying to make it last as long as possible and by the time we got to the fifth or sixth inning, I thought, "We might just have a chance!" It was just shock that it played out like it did for us.
Did you realize that you had the no-hitter going?
I knew I hadn't given up any hits for the first few innings, but I don't think I ever considered it a "no-hitter" because they're just so good. I know that they usually sneak one by eventually, so I wasn't really banking on it.
Can you describe the feeling at the end of the game?
It was just ridiculous. They had the best part of their lineup coming up in the last inning, so if there was any time for them to do something, it was going to be then. When we saw (the U.S. team's Crystl) Bustos fly out to shortstop, I was in shock that it actually happened.
Besides the game, what else was part of the experience of traveling out to Oklahoma City?
We got to spend some time in the city and go to Bricktown and a few nice dinners. On the day of the game, we got to go to the Oklahoma City bombing memorial, which I think was really good for us. A few of us had been there when we were younger, but it's different after last year now since we have an understanding of how a town can go through something like that. I think it meant a lot more to us.
Just this week, you became only the third pitcher in NCAA history to record 2,000 strikeouts. What does that mean to you?
It's exciting, but it's something else that is kind of hard to sink in. I had no idea for a while that I would be able to get there or how things would fall together. To be on that list with a few other great pitchers is really flattering.
What other team accomplishments stand out to you?
Winning the ACC last year was big for us and then going to regionals every year (I've been here), which is something the program hadn't done. Those are really big accomplishments and we still want some more things like that to happen to us this year and make it farther.
What will it take to accomplish that this year?
I think we've shown that we have the potential in the U.S. game and in other games that we've played. There are times that things haven't come together for us and we've been a little inconsistent, so I think going into the postseason that we need to work out some of the bugs we've had lately and make everything come back together.
What is it like playing every day in a conference like the ACC?
I think it's a great conference and I'm really excited that (Virginia Tech) moved into it. All four years I've been here, we've been in the ACC. Every year, it seems like different teams step up - the power shifts from year to year. If one team loses a lot of players, someone else is going to step up and give you the same competition. There's never a year where it's clear cut who will win it.
How do you feel heading into the ACC Championship as the defending champion?
I feel good about it. I wish we could have done better in the regular season, but at the same time, that gives us some motivation and gives us something to prove.
What is your favorite aspect of the ACC Championship?
It's so different from the regular season. (Instead of) the three-game series that we play during the year, it's four days of a lot more focus and everything seems to happen so quickly.
Why did you choose Virginia Tech?
It was my first college visit and I liked it so much (when) I visited. I liked everything about the facilities and the people. I just decided to come here and didn't take any other visits. I was sold pretty quickly.
Do you have any plans yet for after graduation?
I'm going to come back here for graduate school. I'm getting my MBA.
What is your favorite movie?
My mind's going blank now, I've been thinking about softball so much! I feel like the last four years, I've been so busy that I missed a lot of them. I think that's one thing after graduation I'll try to catch up on because I'm really behind. (laughs) We watched Saw on the bus, but I tried to sleep through that. I'm not a big scary movie person!
Angela Tincher and the Hokies return to the softball diamond next weekend for the 2008 ACC Softball Championship held at the University of Maryland. Pairings will be announced on Sunday. ACC Select will provide coverage of the championship.