Mike Candrea has never been in this position before: sitting in his office Tuesday, conducting year-end player interviews, while 16 teams across the country prepared for the NCAA tournament’s super regional round.

His 33-26 Arizona Wildcats were eliminated by Baylor in Saturday’s College Station, Texas, regional — marking the first time since the tournament was expanded in 2005 that the Wildcats failed to make the Round of 16.

For the third straight year, the UA has failed to reach the Women’s College World Series, afforded to the best eight teams in the nation.

Tuesday, the coach sounded resolute to not let it happen again.

“If I’ve gotta prove people wrong,” he said, “then buckle up and get ready, because I will do it.”

In his first of two days’ worth of year-end interviews Tuesday, he told players how they could spend the offseason improving.

He was heartened by the fact that, Tuesday, in the start of the long offseason, players were already in the weight room.

“I was very blunt with (players) about, ‘What’s my return on my investment?’ ” he said.

“You turn it around the other way. ‘I’ve made a strong commitment to you. Now, I need to get a return on this investment.' "


Read this entire article in Wednesday's Arizona Daily Star.