James River High School graduate Angela Tincher O’Brien, a record-setting pitcher who led the Virginia Tech softball program to its only Women’s College World Series appearance and was a national player of the year in 2008, is one of six former student-athletes who were inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame last Friday evening.
The 2018 class of inductees includes: Jessica Botzum Cockrill, a five-time All-American as a swimmer and a two-time ACC Swimmer of the Year during her career from 2005-08; Billy Holsclaw, a three-time letterman as a quarterback and safety in the late 1950s and the first player ever at Tech to throw for more than 1,000 yards in a season on his way to breaking Southern Conference single-season records for passing and total offense; Patrick Nyarko, the only All-American in Tech men’s soccer history who led the program to a College Cup appearance in 2007 before departing to play professionally; and Eddie Royal, a receiver and return specialist during his career from 2004-07 who still holds two school records and went on to play nine seasons in the NFL; Darryl Tapp, a first-team All-America football player as a senior in 2005 who recorded 21.5 sacks and 40 tackles for a loss in his career and later played 12 years in the NFL; and Tincher O’Brien, a three-time All-American as a pitcher who still holds 57 school records, including those for career wins, career strikeouts and career ERA.
The six new honorees were inducted at a Hall of Fame dinner held at the Inn at Virginia Tech, and the inductees were introduced to fans at halftime of the Virginia Tech-Miami football game Saturday. The new inductees will bring the total number enshrined to 198. The Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, which is located at the south end of the Cassell Coliseum ambulatory, was established in 1982.
Tincher dominated in the pitcher’s circle like no other in the relatively brief history of the Tech softball program and ranks as not just one of the best softball players in program history, but one of the best athletes in Virginia Tech history.
Tincher, a relatively lightly recruited player out of James River High School despite leading the Knights to two state championships, became the Hokies’ ace as a freshman in 2005. Despite missing three weeks with an injury, she still finished 21-9 overall, with an ACC-leading 1.06 ERA. She struck out 349 batters in 204.1 innings, leading the ACC and coming in third in the nation in strikeouts per seven innings (12.0).
As a sophomore, Tincher went 26-9, with a 1.01 ERA. She struck out 504 batters – a school and ACC record at the time – in 256.1 innings on her way to becoming the first softball All-American in Virginia Tech history. Despite being a sophomore, she was the ACC Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year, and she was one of 10 finalists for the USA Softball National Player of the Year award.
In 2007 as a junior, Tincher earned All-America honors again and was the ACC Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season. She went 38-7, with a 0.56 ERA – a number that led the nation. She also struck out 617 batters in 311.2 innings, ranking second nationally in strikeouts. She went 4-0 at the ACC tournament, pitching a tournament-record 25.1 consecutive scoreless innings en route to leading the Hokies to their first ACC title.
Tincher closed her career in grand fashion, going 38-10, with a 0.63 ERA in 2008. She struck out 679 batters in 344 innings, but more importantly, she led the Hokies to a second straight ACC title and to the Women’s College World Series – the program’s first and only appearance.
Midway through her senior season, she and the Hokies received national attention when they beat the U.S. Olympic team in an exhibition, snapping the U.S. team’s 185-game winning streak. Tincher pitched a no-hitter, striking out 10 in Tech’s 1-0 victory.
Tincher was USA Collegiate Player of the Year and the Honda Softball Player of the Year in 2008 in addition to being named the ACC Pitcher of the Year. She still holds nearly every pitching record at Tech, including career wins (123), career ERA (0.78), career strikeouts (2,149), career shutouts (54), career no-hitters (14), career opponent batting average (.116), career starts (150), career appearances (186), and career innings pitched (1,116.1).
In addition to excelling on the field, Tincher performed tremendously in the classroom, earning academic All-America honors on three occasions. She graduated in 2008 with a degree in finance.
In 2008, Tincher was the third overall selection in the National Pro Fastpitch senior draft by the Akron Racers. She played two seasons for the Racers and she also played a season in Japan before embarking on a coaching career. Her coaching stops have taken her to Syracuse and Maryland before she returned to her alma matter as the pitching coach of the Hokies, a position she held for five seasons.
Tincher and her husband, former Tech baseball player Sean O’Brien, live in Blacksburg with their children.