Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea retires after 36 years at program

Jun 7, 2021, 11:36 AM | Updated: 3:05 pm

University of Arizona softball head coach Mike Candrea and manager Chip Hale #3 of the Arizona Diam...

University of Arizona softball head coach Mike Candrea and manager Chip Hale #3 of the Arizona Diamondbacks talk before the MLB game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 18, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Darin Wallentine/Getty Images)

(Photo by Darin Wallentine/Getty Images)

After nearly four decades, Arizona softball says goodbye to arguably the sport’s greatest.

Head coach Mike Candrea announced his retirement from the Wildcats’ program on Monday.

Taking over head-coaching duties will be Caitlin Lowe, who spent nine seasons under Candrea. Lowe played for Candrea at Arizona and on the U.S. Olympic Team.

Candrea ends his career as the winningest coach in college softball history with 1,674 wins. He is the fastest coach to reach 1,600 wins in NCAA history, and his wins also rank as the fifth most in all of Division I sports.

The 65 year-old began his coaching career at Arizona in 1986, where he would end up coaching 53 All-Americans. He won eight national titles and 10 conference titles, and he made 24 Women’s College World Series appearances and 34 consecutive postseason appearances during his legendary career in Tucson.

On top of being a college coach, Candrea was also the head coach for USA Softball. He won a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and a silver medal in the 2008 Bejing Olympics.

“It has been an honor to represent the University of Arizona for 36 years,” said Candrea via the team’s press release.

“I am indebted to every player, coach and member of my support staff that has made the Arizona softball experience one that I will cherish forever. When I arrived in 1985, I wanted to build a culture of excellence and compete consistently at the highest levels of Division 1 softball. Most of all, our goal was to prepare our student-athletes for life after softball and build relationships that would last a lifetime.”

In his final season at Arizona, the Wildcats finished 41-15 overall and 12-10 in conference play. They reached the Women’s College World Series for the second straight year, eventually losing to No. 3 seed Alabama and No. 11 seed Florida State last weekend.

“At the end of every year, once you get to my age, you kind of evaluate life and things, and the only thing I can tell you is when that day comes, I will do it on my own terms and make that decision,” he said after the team’s 4-3 loss to the Seminoles on Saturday.

“But right now, I’m not in any position. Right now I feel bad for these kids, and we’ve just busted our butts to try to keep playing. So I will let it all absorb and go from there.”

Despite stepping down from his coaching position, the team said Candrea will take an advisory role in the Arizona athletic department while also assisting with coaching development.


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