Mike Candrea feeling 'blessed' on induction into Arizona Sports Hall of Fame

Photo via Arizona Athletics

Candrea: 'You don't get up here in this situation by yourself'

Arizona Wildcats softball coach Mike Candrea added another honor Thursday night, when he was inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.

The eight-time NCAA champion -- and two-time junior college champion at Central Arizona -- was part of a class that includes the late Arizona State and Arizona Cardinals linebacker Pat Tillman, Olympic gold-medal-winning swimmer Gary Hall Jr., former Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace, Xavier College Prep golf coach Sister Lynn Winsor BVM and former Chaparral High School softball coach Jeff Oscarson.

"It's truly an honor and a privilege for me to be inducted with this fine group of athletes, coaches," he said in his remarks at Scottsdale Plaza Resort.

"I'm very humbled by this opportunity to stand in front of you. You're looking at a guy that for some reason loved the bat-and-ball game. I've had a passion for it my entire life. And I always tell people I've never worked a day in my life because I'm doing what I love to do -- and that's coaching young people.

"I've been on a baseball field or a softball field since I was 5 years old, so it's been a blessed life. I have been blessed by a lot of different things. You don't get up here in this situation by yourself. We all know that as coaches.

"There have been a lot of great coaches that I've worked with. A lot of great support staff that I work with. And tremendous players, because we all know if you can't recruit, you're not going to win at this level. I give all of them a big thanks because, really, this is them. This is their honor. And I want to share that with them."

Candrea, 63, will be in his 34th season as the head coach of the Wildcats when the team begins play in February in the 2019 season. He has a career record of 1,563-404-2 (79.4 percent).

He has produced 51 All-Americans, led Team USA to the 2004 Olympic gold medal, also winning silver in 2008.

Candrea previously has been inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame (2017), the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame (1996), the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame (1996) and the Central Arizona College Hall of Game (2009).