It didn’t take long for Mike Candrea to turn Arizona softball into a national powerhouse. Now that his legendary coaching career has come to an end, there’s no point in waiting to put him into the school’s Hall of Fame.
Candrea is part of the latest class of inductees into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, which was announced Wednesday. The 8-member group will be formally inducted on Sept. 8, with recognition of at the UA football home opener on Sept. 10.
Already enshrined in the halls of fame for Pima County, USA Softball, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and Central Arizona College, where he was a baseball coach before coming to the UA, Candrea retired last June after 36 seasons. He led the Wildcats to eight Women’s College World Series titles, making the WCWS 24 times, and also coached Team USA to medals at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics.
Joining Candrea in the 2022 class are:
* Fred Batiste, a football and track star who in 1949 became the school’s first black student-athlete
* Cory Chitwood, a 14-time All-American swimmer from 2008-12 who won was a member of the 2008 national championship team and won three consecutive NCAA backstroke titles
* Ben Grado, the Pac-12 Diver of the Year in 2012 who won all three conference diving titles that season and was Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year in 2008 on the national championship squad
* Brittany Lastrapes, a 4-time All-American outfielder for the UA softball team from 2008-11 who led the NCAA in runs, hits and total bases in 2009.
* Jim Livengood, who served as Arizona’s athletic director from 1994-2009 during which the school won 36 Pac-10 titles and 11 national titles and was in the top 10 of the Sears Director’s Cup 11 times.
* Austen Thompson, a 4-time All-American swimmer from 2008-12 who won the 2012 national title in the 400-meter individual medley.
* Willie Williams, Arizona’s track and field head coach from 1969-82, he was the first black head coach in major college sports history who also coached for Team USA.