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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Just part of ‘the process’

“”If it aint broke don’t fix it”” should be the motto of the Arizona Wildcats softball program.

The Wildcats have had 26 years of stability under head coach Mike Candrea — nearly 1,300 wins, 21 consecutive Women’s College World Series appearances and eight national championships.

Arizona must be a breeding ground for athletics streaks and sustained success.

Candrea has been able to keep the softball world focused on Tucson despite challengers from the Pacific 10 Conference and the emergence of the Southeastern Conference.

His recruiting classes are unparalleled, individual success unmatched and name has become synonymous with USA softball.

But the 2011 non-conference season wasn’t going so well. There were problems that needed to be addressed before Pac-10 play began.

When the 2011 Wildcats weren’t meeting his, or the program’s, expectations, he did what’s he’s been doing since 1985 — adapt.

He needed to tweak his formula for winning. Candrea’s recipe for success is called “”the process,”” a three-step method, designed to get teams to the post season on a consistent basis.

It’s cliché, but it’s proven and effective.

Success gives the program merit, but over the years, Candrea has had to change the way he coaches.

“”I can remember back in the old days, I didn’t even post stats,”” Candrea said. “”Our kids didn’t know what they were hitting.””

Cell phones, Internet and television coverage all contribute to the “”different environment”” that Candrea’s athletes now live in.

Times, trends and style have all changed, Candrea hasn’t.

He uses tradition as motivation rather than intimidation.

Instead of stern dismissal, it’s an encouraging clap from the third base batter’s box, or an explanation of how to improve after the game is over. It’s just the way Candrea has always done business.

Candrea’s real genius lies in the fact that he knows he has a winning, proven formula, but still changes it to fit the needs of each of his teams. He has proven success, but isn’t absolute in its application. His philosophy is more of a guideline rather than concrete rule.

Twenty-six years of success doesn’t lie, and neither does being the most respected coach in the game of college softball.

That’s why Arizona has been so successful for a quarter of a century, and why the Wildcats have been associated with the pinnacle of college softball.

It’s not time to hit the panic button on Arizona’s season just yet.

Candrea knows it’s all just part of the process.


— Nicole Dimtsios is a journalism junior. She can be reached at

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