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NCAA softball’s winningest coach Mike Candrea retires after 36 seasons with Arizona

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Mike Candrea
Arizona Wildcats
Mike Candrea

TUCSON (KVOA) - Following Saturday's elimination from the Women's College World Series, Arizona head softball coach Mike Candrea announced his retirement from coaching on Monday.

Through his 36 seasons with the Wildcats, the all-time winningest coach in softball history transformed the University of Arizona's softball program into a powerhouse with eight national championships, 24 appearances in the Women's College World Series, 34 postseason berths and 10 conference championships.

During his time as head coach, Candrea helped more than 50 student-athletes receive All-American honors.

"It has been an honor to represent the University of Arizona for 36 years," said Candrea. "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."

Despite falling to Florida State 4-3 on Saturday in the elimination bracket of the Women's College World Series, the Wildcats saw another successful season under the longtime coach, finishing with a 41-15 record.

The hall-of-fame coach also served as head coach of the United States woman's national softball team, leading Team USA to a gold medal in 2004 and a silver in 2008.

"Over the past 36 years, Coach Mike Candrea has built Arizona Softball into one of the premier programs in the country," said UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. "His legacy is unmatched: 8 national titles, 1600+ wins, and โ€“ more importantly โ€“ the countless students who have told me their lives are better because he was their coach and mentor. As he retires, I know the impact of his example and leadership at the University of Arizona will continue for new generations of Wildcats. Truly an all-time great."

The university is scheduled to honor the legendary coach with a farewell press conference on Tuesday at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.

"Over his four decades as the head coach of Arizona Softball, Mike Candrea established himself as one of the most iconic coaches, of any sport, in college athletics history," said Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke. "While his impact on the game is widely recognized, his legacy is in the lives of the thousands of Wildcats who he coached. Mike's career embodied true excellence in all facets of leading a softball program -- winning on the field, student-athlete success in the classroom and developing them for life after graduation. He established a championship culture within Arizona Athletics that permeates throughout our department, and represented our state with honor and distinction. Mike is the epitome of a Wildcat for Life who coached, mentored and developed countless other Wildcats for Life."

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Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes is the lead digital content producer at News 4 Tucson. The award-winning journalist previously worked as a community reporter in Jasper County, Iowa.

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