Assistant Coach Larry Ray enters his third consecutive season with the Wildcats but has a broader Arizona heritage and brings more than 26 years of coaching experience to the staff.
In 2004, Ray will assume acting head coach duties while Mike Candrea turns his attention to duties as USA Softball head coach for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Ray’s been a head coach before, and should help foster continued success by the Wildcats.
Ray was an assistant coach at Arizona during the 1986-1995 seasons, helping guide teams that claimed NCAA titles in 1991, 1993, and 1994.
Before returning to Arizona in 2002, Ray was head coach at the University of Florida where he established the program and compiled a 169-106 record in his four years of competition. The Gators made the post-season tournament and were ranked in the top 25 two of the four years during his tenure.
His 1998 campaign brought him considerable regard. Ray led Florida to a 47-22 season, claiming the Southeastern regular-season title, the SEC Eastern Division title and earning the Gator’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Regional Championships. Along the way, Ray earned Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year honors.
After a year of recruiting and developing team processes for the new Florida program in 1996, Ray led the Gators to a 42-25 inaugural season record (16-8 SEC) in 1997, including a third-place finish in the SEC Eastern Division and a trip to the SEC Tournament Championship game. Florida also split with nationally-ranked rivals Florida State and South Florida and defeated No. 12 Oklahoma State, while playing a challenging schedule that included five College World Series teams.
Normally Ray works with left-handed slap hitters, the short game, outfielders and recruiting at Arizona, but will have a full plate in 2004 while leading the program with assistant Nancy Evans. Ray’s work with UA leadoff batter Autumn Champion helped the freshman outfielder earn first-team All-America honors and post a .434 batting average, one of the top for a freshman in UA history.
Ray compiled a 70-13 record in four years as coach at Boulder City, Nev., High School from 1982 to 1985. He took over a program that won two games the previous year and guided it to a 17-3 mark and the Class AA state championship his first season. He also coached BCHS to consecutive titles in his last two years with 20-1 and 24-1 marks.
A graduate of Idaho State University, Ray lettered as a second baseman in baseball and wide receiver and kicker in football. He was selected a District 7 All-American as an infielder in 1972. He lettered two years in football and one year in baseball at West Valley Junior College in Campbell, Calif. (Now in Saratoga) in 1968-69 before transferring to ISU. He was the football scoring leader for California junior colleges in 1969.
Ray played in five World tournaments in competitive fast-pitch as a middle infielder. He has produced a number of successful instructional videos on coaching techniques for slap hitting and the short game.
Ray and his wife, Dawn, have a daughter, Bree, 12, and son, Taylor, 11.
Larry Ray Head Coaching Record 1996 Florida (non-competition year) 1997 Florida 42-25 1998 Florida 47-22, SEC title, SEC Division title, SEC Coach of Year 1999 Florida 34-29 2000 Florida 46-30 Totals 169-106 (.615)