Softball team plays NPF All-Stars Wednesday...
Oct. 23, 2012
Interview by Jordan Clifton, Communication Services
Arizona Softball Coach Mike Candrea talks about the Wildcats
Q: Overall, what have the seven fall games shown you about the 2013 Wildcats?
A: "I really like this team. They work extremely hard, they are very passionate about putting on the uniform and representing Arizona. I think they all bring something to the table that I think ultimately will help this team to be successful. I think the process has been embraced. We have a lot more depth, many kids that play multiple positions. I think our pitching depth is going to be something new and refreshing. I think we are in a good place and we just need to continue to take advantage of every day that we have, to be together and get better."
Q: Does this team remind you of any others in the past?
A: "One of the nice things about this team, is we have eight new faces. Half of the team is brand new, and a lot of times when you have young players coming into your program, they bring a lot of energy. They are very high-energy and willing to do what they can to help this team get back where it belongs -- and that's at the College World Series playing for a national championship. I think they all know the road is tough and there's a lot of parity throughout the country. I really like right now how they are going about their business, on the field, in conditioning, in the weight room, and in just about every aspect. Right now, I am pretty pleased."
Q: What are you most looking forward to when season comes?
A: "It's kind of a new beginning for us, we have a very different look and I am excited to see how we respond to the competition. I always say, right now we are a good junior college team but we are not going to be playing junior colleges. I want to see what kind of team we are at Division I. I think the key to our season and to most seasons is to be able to stick with the process week after week. It is a challenge with a lot of ups and downs."
Q: What's your emphasis right now?
A: "My big theme right now is trying to become the best team we can become. I think that has a lot to do with having success and being able to maintain success over a long period. That's building good relationships with teammates, understanding that you have to have some compassion sometimes for young players coming into the program. They are going to make mistakes but I think we have good leadership right now, good talent, and good work ethic."
Q: What is the main focus in practice to prepare for the NPF game?
A: "Right now we are just taking the time we have as a team to really spend a lot of time on defense. We haven't spent too much time on the offensive game because we feel like we have more time to do that when we go back into individuals. Pitching and defense have been really the key focus. The NPF game is going to give us a really good challenge. The players that are out of college have that game maturity and good skills and are at the prime of their career. It will be a good gauge for us. My big thing is to see how well our pitchers match up and how well they compete."
Q: What does the pitching rotation consist of?
A: "We will throw all three of them. With Kenzie (Fowler) still being out with her back surgery, I definitely want to give every kid an opportunity. So we will probably split the game up between all three of them." (Shelby Babcock, Estela Pinon, Nancy Bowling.)
Q: Are there any former UA players on the NPF?
A: "I think the only one right now that's going to be playing will be Caitlyn Lowe. I really haven't seen their roster, so I really don't know who they are bringing."
Q: What are the differences in playing the NPF team compared to conference play?
A: "I think it's the experience factor, all of the NPF players have been at the college level. You are playing players that have a high level of physical ability and understand the mental side of the game. You are not going to throw anything at them that they think is intimidating. You have to really go out and beat someone in order to win. I think this is a good challenge because as you get into the Pac-12 season and postseason that's really what it's all about. It is a good game to have on our schedule to kind of keep the focus in practice. With this game I think it has really heightened their focus. I am hoping we will have a good crowd, and hoping it will be a great game."
Q: What made you decide for our team to play against the NPF not only this year but in the past?
A: "I think it is a great challenge especially at this time of year. It is hard to find many Division 1 schools that are going to travel and come out and play in the fall. The NPF gives us an opportunity to bring in a quality team. I am also on their board of directors so I have a little personal bias; I would love to see that league flourish."
Q: How are the girls preparing for this game/season, mentally and physically?
A: "I think when you have young players, the one area where they are going to have to grow is being able to balance the physical development and mental development. They all kind of come together. As an older player you kind of know what to expect, you have been through the wars so the game tends to stay kind of slow for you, whereas for the young kid it gets a little quick on them. So we have done a lot of scrimmaging to try to give us as much game time as we can."