NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — It was time for Melinda Fischer to retire.

The legendary Illinois State softball coach says she made the decision in June and waited until this weekend to tell her team when her players returned to campus. But she also wanted to make sure when she stepped down, the program she ran for 37 years was in good hands.

When ISU announced it was hiring 22-year Redbird assistant Tina Kramos, that’s all Fischer needed to hear.

“Honestly, I could see myself coaching forever,” Fischer said. “But I know it’s not the right thing to do when you have such an opportunity to put a staff together like what Tina will have. That, to me, was what’s best for the program.”

Fischer retires with more wins any coach at any sport in ISU history, 1,159 over 39 years. She spent two years at Eastern Illinois before her 37-year ISU tenure began in 1986.

She won 1,118 games at Illinois State and is 18th on the all-time NCAA wins list. Fischer is one of only 28 head coaches in NCAA Division I softball that have won 1,000 games in their coaching career with at least 10 years of Division I head coaching experience.

Her Redbird teams won 12 conference championships and qualified for nine NCAA Regionals.

“It’s humbling to follow a legend like Melinda,” Kramos said. “I am eager to follow in her footsteps.”