Mike Candrea, head coach for the Arizona softball team, got his team ready for today’s Super Regional against No. 6 Arkansas in Arkansas. The winner advances to the Women’s College World Series. Candrea holds the record for most wins as a coach in NCAA softball history. This is Candrea’s 36th season as head coach for the Wildcats and would be his 24th appearance with the Wildcat team.
Here is his interview on Fox Sports 1450’s Eye on the Ball:
(Transcribed by Justin Sternad)
Q: What’s your feeling about your team coming out of the Regional?
Mike: “I like where we are at right now, I think this team is ready to compete. I think they’re confident but not overly confident and I think they’re excited to get a little bit deeper in the postseason. We have a challenge ahead of us and it’s what postseason is all about. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.”
- Q: You and the team have gone through a lot in the last year, would you say that’s true or not true?
- Mike: “Most certainly. This last year is something I’ll or any of us will ever forget. To have a season be cancelled and also not knowing if seven seniors can come back and finish their senior year the way they should, but all of it kind of worked out and we got to a point where we hosted a regional here in Tucson and won that regional. It was emotional for me because of everything these kids have gone through to give us a chance to play.”
- Q: How do you feel the seniors have put up with all that’s been happening this past year?
- Mike: “I think our seniors have done a hell of a job and I think we did put them on a pedestal and call them super seniors, but the thing about these kids is they’re pleasers. They want to please everyone, and it definitely can have a silent effect on you. This group has given this university everything that they’ve had for five years and I’m very proud of them not just on the field but in the classroom and in the community.”
- Q: Was the discussion between you and Dejah to get her to relax and feel better about herself or saying “hey we need you to perform”?
- Mike: “It was a little bit of everything. Some players see pitchers really well and sometimes players just can’t see and people don’t always understand that. It was just an easy discussion with her about being yourself and making sure she gets her eyes where she needs to hit pitches.”
- Q: You got a home run and things started going, can a game like this recent one effect the team?
- Mike: “Oh yeah, I think definitely you’re going to gain some confidence and I think at this stage in the game and postseason those games are huge. One thing I think they can all draw from it is that we can play from behind and I think that’s huge.”
- Q: How confident are you in the three girls you have pitching?
- Mike: “You have to be confident you know because that’s who we have. I know there have been ups and downs, but I really believe right now that they’re prepared and will give us everything they have. The tough part is really [when] to say when with pitchers. We have to be smart with this staff and we plan on using all of them. I think the next couple of days will allow them to get a couple of workouts in and see what they’ll be up against and plan on going out and getting after it.”
- Q: You’re facing an SEC team now, what do you tell the team and what is the approach against playing an SEC team, or does that even matter?
- Mike: “I think the SEC has done a great job in owning their teams. And do a great job of putting highlights on every week on ESPN and running their game action and baseball and softball and I just hope that PAC-12 heard it because I think we need to step our game up. Going into Arkansas is a great story because they’ve never been much in softball but now they are. We’re gonna have to beat them, they’re not going to beat themselves, they’re not going to be intimidated and we have to go out and play our best softball.”
- Q: What point did you realize you created your own monster with softball and here?
- Mike: “My venture has always been to number one, make Arizona the best in the country and to be a consistent winner. Something I’ve really tried to do is build a tradition that wins consistently and second is to make the game better. I feel that the role of every coach, to reach down to the grass roots and make our game better, and what I think you’re seeing right now is the result of making the grass roots better. I’m really happy that they’re getting the visibility kids are getting from networks because softball is a growing sport and I think has the potential of being very huge on the women’s side.”
- Q: How have freshmen accepted the challenge, how ready are they right now?
- Mike: “I couldn’t be happier with (them). They have definitely matured as players and I think postseason is where you see it. I think they’ll handle it well, the moment is not going to get too big on them, but I promise you they’ll be prepared to give us everything they have.”
- Q: What’s your mindset right now regarding social media?
- Mike: “I feel like sometimes I have to defend my own players. They’re not going to speak up to people about things, but I think it’s wrong when people are taking shots at kids that are out there trying to perform a game that’s very difficult. If you’ve played the game then I’ll respect it a little more but if you haven’t played the game, I think people need to realize that they need to do some homework before they start making harsh remarks about a kid’s performance. I’d like people to look at the positive side of these young ladies. They’re amateurs out there playing the game for the love of the game and the love of the university and I respect that. And, I want other people to respect that.”
For the complete interview with Steve & Jay on Eye on the Ball visit: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1248-eye-on-the-ball-70788317/episode/eye-on-the-ball-tuesday-82959963/