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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Softball coaches named D-I staff of the year

    Arizona head coach Mike Candrea preps his players before a 10-inning win over Tennessee in Game 2 of the Womens College World Series June 5. Candrea and his fellow coaches have been named the NCAA Division I staff of the year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
    Arizona head coach Mike Candrea preps his players before a 10-inning win over Tennessee in Game 2 of the Women’s College World Series June 5. Candrea and his fellow coaches have been named the NCAA Division I staff of the year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

    It’s the players who climb the mountain of success, but it’s the coaches who stay behind them the whole way, pushing them toward their goals.

    The Arizona softball coaches have been named the NCAA Division I staff of the year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, after the Wildcats won their eighth national title, and second straight, in June.

    UA head coach Mike Candrea, assistants Larry Ray and Nancy Evans, volunteer assistant Dave Feinberg and student assistant Alicia Hollowell will be honored at the NFCA national convention in Las Vegas Nov. 28-Dec. 1.

    “”It’s a huge honor,”” Evans said. “”It’s a humbling experience. We worked really hard this year with our team, and it paid off in the end.””

    Throughout the season, Evans put together scouting reports, and also gathered video and charts on opposing hitters.

    The cerebral approach the coaches brto the game is what allowed the Wildcats to finish 50-14-1 this season, said junior pitcher Taryne Mowatt.

    “”Nancy has always been there, teaching me the mental part of the game,”” she said. “”She never really tampered too much with the physical part and the mechanics of the game.””

    Ray agreed that his approach to the game was more of a mind game.

    “”If you look around at the top 10 or 20 teams nationally, there’s really not much that separates the players physically,”” he said. “”Everyone’s talented and maybe one or two players can do some things that everyone else can’t. But for the most part, you’re on the same level, and what you do mentally and how you handle the ups and downs really has a lot to do with how successful you’ll be from there on out.””

    Of course, softball is not completely a mind game.

    One way the coaches prepared the team for game situationswas by speeding up practice, so the players responded to routine and not-so-routine plays quicker.

    “”In softball, it’s a pretty quick game, especially with the bases being so close,”” Mowatt said. “”Coach Candrea speeds up practice so that the games seem slower.””

    As an advocate of speed, Candrea has never slowed down. He is currently coaching the USA team in Oklahoma City, and will take a leave of absence in January to coach the Olympic team in Beijing.

    He took a similar leave before the 2004 Athens Olympics. Ray was named interim coach and led the Wildcats to a 55-6 record and a Pacific 10 Conference championship that year. The Wildcats were beaten at home by Oklahoma and Louisiana-Lafayette in the NCAA regionals, failing to qualify for the Women’s College World Series for the only time in 20 seasons.

    Evans, who will head the team with Ray, said she does not foresee that result happening again.

    “”Larry and I compliment each other,”” she said. “”And I’m a lot like coach Candrea, so that presence on the field will still be there. It will be a fun experience, and we shouldn’t lose a step.””

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