UA pitcher Kenzie Fowler redshirted this season because of back surgery but is expected back next season and may play nearly every day.


It used to be that Mike Candrea could recruit the best high school juniors, sign them before their senior years and know exactly what he was getting.

Now, the process starts when players are in ninth grade.

"You've got a long way to see what that kid's going to end up being," Candrea said.

"Sometimes you make some mistakes, and sometimes you don't.

"It was a lot easier back in the old days when a kid didn't make their decision till their senior year, because you knew exactly what you're gonna get."

Arizona's inherent recruiting advantage, therefore, became less so. The UA missed on players.

"Recruiting has not been where it needs to be," he said.

That's changing, the coach said this week, after the 33-26 Wildcats' season ended with a regional loss to Baylor.

"You're going to start seeing an influx of athletes coming in this program that I think will help us get back to where we want to get," he said.

"I think we've done our homework, and you're going to see the next two or three classes coming in are very talented and will help us get back where we need to get."

Here's a look at what the UA will add for next year:

• Freshmen. Five high school seniors signed national letters of intent in November.

Pitcher Michelle Floyd (San Marino, Calif.) has been working with former UA great Susie Parra, and "has a chance to be pretty good," Candrea said. Floyd's team has won the 16-and-under national title.

Outfielder Eva Watson (Victoria, Va.) reminds Candrea of former UA star Caitlin Lowe.

The UA will also add middle infielder Mo Mercado (Temecula, Calif.), third baseman Kati Mauga (San Diego, Calif.) and infielder Lauren Johnson (Phoenix).

"We do have some kids coming into the program that want an opportunity to play at this level," Candrea said, "and we'll give them that opportunity."

• Returners. The Wildcats had two potential starters redshirting this past season.

Pitcher Kenzie Fowler could become the team's regular first baseman.

"Kenzie will have the opportunity to hit," Candrea said.

Kellie Fox, a UCLA transfer and the little sister of former UA great Kristie Fox, figures to be the team's starting shortstop. As a freshman in 2011, she was first-team all-conference.

• A bigger roster. The Wildcats, who could still add a junior college player or two, will have a significantly larger roster next year. They had 16 players this past season, but two of those - Fowler and Fox - couldn't play.

Candrea said that "you'll see our roster expand quite a bit" next year.

"The group you're going to see here next year will be a team that will be very competitive, a lot more deep," he said. "Numbers, I think, is a big part of it, too. I really think we're going to have an opportunity to get back to Oklahoma City."

He said he didn't know if any current players would transfer.

"You might not see it right now," he said, "but we have people that are very capable of being better."

Season wrap-up

This is the second part of Patrick Finley's look back at the Wildcats' 2013 season.

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at or 573-4658. On Twitter @PatrickFinley