TUCSON, Ariz. ?C The Arizona softball coaching staff has been set for the 2008 season, head coach Mike Candrea announced today.
Candrea will be taking an eight-month partial leave of absence from the program while he serves as the head coach for the U.S. Womenˇ?s National Team in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Although Candrea will be traveling the country with the national team throughout the spring, he is tentatively scheduled to be present at 17 Arizona softball games, to be in Tucson for a minimum of six weekdays per month over the course of the season and will continue to be involved in the recruiting process.
As he did in 2004 when Candrea coached Team USA to a gold medal in Athens, Larry Ray will serve as interim head coach. A 17-year veteran on Candreaˇ?s staff, Ray led UA to a Pac-10 title and 55-6 record in 2004. In a five year hiatus from UA, Ray guided the University of Florida softball team through its inaugural four seasons to a 169-106 record and was named the 1998 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year.
"I have the utmost faith in the ability of my staff," Candrea said. "I wouldnˇ?t even consider doing this if I had the slightest doubt that they could handle the program.
"Two other critical elements for me are that both Larry and Dave have head coaching experience, and that on a daily basis ?C particularly at practice ?C they have responsibilities that typically go to a head coach."
Dave Feinberg, who is in his third year with Arizona, enters his first year as a full-time assistant coach after serving as the programˇ?s volunteer assistant for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. In that time, Feinberg worked primarily with UAˇ?s outfielders, who committed just one error in 155 chances last year. In addition to his other responsibilities which include various administrative roles and scouting, Feinberg will serve as the Wildcatsˇ? hitting coach this year.
Like Ray, Feinberg brings head coaching experience, as he served as the Arizona Western College baseball teamˇ?s skipper before entering the Division I ranks as an assistant coach for UNLVˇ?s baseball team.
Gale Bundrick completes the staff as the programˇ?s volunteer assistant coach. A former Wildcat football letterwinner, Bundrick has spent the last 23 years as pitching coach at Canyon Del Oro High School in Tucson. Under his leadership, the Dorados won three state championships, and seven of his pitchers went on to play at the Division I level.
The two-time defending NCAA Champion Arizona softball team will begin its 2008 season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe on Feb. 15 against Notre Dame.