On Monday, USA Softball announced its 2017 Hall of Fame Class, and the headliner is Arizona Wildcats head coach Mike Candrea.
Earlier this season, Candrea won his 1,500th career game, the first coach to win that many games at the Division-1 level. He was also the fastest in any collegiate sport to reach the milestone.
Since then, Arizona has not lost a game, having won 25 straight games. The Wildcats are 40-1 overall this year, the only loss being a 1-0 decision against No. 1 Florida State.
At Arizona, Candrea has won eight National Championships, the last coming in 2007. He also won a gold medal as the head coach of Team USA at the 2004 Olympics, and also won silver in 2008.
“Coach Candrea has really kept a lot of the fundamentals of what this program has had to be successful. He’s kept that in place,” former player and Arizona interim athletic director Erika Hanson Barnes said about the long-term success UA has had in softball. “So as we build facilities, as our budgets grow, as we have TV contracts and that softball has more exposure, the fundamentals he’s put in place to make this a success, that vehicle is exactly the same.”
“He’s stuck to his routine, his schedule, the fundamentals, and his strategy,” Barnes continued. “There’s been more parody in the sport, but I think that’s a huge tribute to him. Now people are trying to beat him with the blueprint that he really created. So it’s fun to see a program like this year’s team have the same tools and same team chemistry that I’ve seen in a lot of our National Championship teams.”
We’ll see if it’ll come to fruition, but one thing’s for sure: there should not be a softball Hall of Fame without Candrea in it. And now there will be.