Softball head coach Candrea looks toward another national championship
Arizona’s softball season is only weeks away, and the first preseason polls have been released, pegging the Wildcats as No. 13. Arizona opens the season with the Kajikawa Classic on Feb. 8 against Northwestern.
The Daily Wildcat caught up with softball coach Mike Candrea, now in his 28th season as head coach of the Wildcats, on his early impressions of the Pac-12 and the Wildcats as a whole.
Daily Wildcat: What teams do you see as the biggest competition for Arizona this season?
Candrea: “Everyone; I think if you look at the conference, its very strong, so I don’t think we can take anyone lightly this season. I would rather go in respecting every opponent we play.
Kelsee Becker / Arizona Daily Wildcat Softball Coach Mike Candrea
There are some teams that have proved themselves over the past couple of years, like Oklahoma and LSU, and the Pac-12 is a very strong conference itself. We have a very competitive schedule and will be challenged throughout the year.”
What changes have you made that will allow a championship season to occur this year?
“Right now, our biggest challenge is trying to mesh some new kids with the ones we have returning. This is the first time in a long time that I have had so many new players- 6 new faces out there. I think our ability to get people to settle in on a particular position will specifically help us. I think our infield is closer to getting settled in, but the biggest thing for this team will be to play some games, find out where we’re at, and continue to play better.”
Who specifically on the roster do you have great hopes for?
“I like this team and I think there are a lot of very capable players. Del Ponte sticks out to me as a kid we are looking forward to getting some leadership and consistency from. Hallie Wilson is another returning player who had a good year last year and who will need to continue that.
Chelsea Goodacre behind the plate, Babcock, and then we are waiting to see where Fowler is with her back. She can be a force to be reckoned with if she is able to get back on the mound. Other than that, there are really a lot of question marks and we have some good people who need a chance to compete, and then we will find out where we’re at.”
After 27 years is there anything you’d like to accomplish that you haven’t already accomplished? How long do you see yourself at the helm of UA Softball? What would you like your legacy here to be?
“Yeah, another national championship. As long as I get up every morning and look forward to going to work, I’ll continue to coach.
I’ve been blessed to be able to do something that I have a passion for and love to do. As long as I have the energy and the drive to do it because it is a grind. I’m still enjoying the process and enjoying the kids and the competition, so I really have not put a timeline on myself. I’d like my legacy to be that I was a consistent winner.
“That we did things the right way and I hope when people look back we didn’t only have good teams, but good people that played the sport here at Arizona who represented this university, program, and community the right way.”