University of Arizona's softball coach Mike Candrea 

Ron Medvescek/Arizona Daily Star

TEMPE - Complaining of chest tightness, Mike Candrea was rushed to the hospital Sunday during the Arizona Wildcats' 7-6 softball loss to Arizona State at Farrington Stadium.

The 56-year-old coach passed an EKG before being transported late Sunday from Tempe to Tucson's University Medical Center, where he was kept overnight for observation.

His chest pains were likely stress-related, Candrea's wife Tina told UA spokesman Tom Duddleston. Assistant coach Larry Ray presumed late Sunday that Candrea did not get much sleep Saturday night, and probably didn't eat well.

Ray said he expected Candrea to coach Tuesday when the Wildcats host San Diego State. The Wildcats have Monday off, except for an athletic department-wide meeting.

After the Wildcats' loss, Ray said Candrea was smart to listen to his body.

"Anytime you're around our age, you never know - it can come up on you quickly," he said. "I was just hoping he was OK. I was worried. I'm just glad I got the news that I did."

The coach first felt chest pains after the second inning, Ray said. Candrea told Ray to coach third base, which is the head coach's typical job while the Wildcats are at bat.

Candrea, who has won eight national titles at Arizona and a gold medal coaching Team USA, was treated in the clubhouse by trainer Emily Anaya before leaving in an ambulance in the fourth inning, Ray said. His wife accompanied him.

"He was in good hands," said Baillie Kirker, who drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double. "You're worried about your coach. It's a little bit mind-boggling, but we had to stay focused."

Some players, like outfielder Chelsea Suitos, weren't aware of the severity of Candrea's situation until after the game.

"I think a lot of us were focusing on keeping our game up, and trying to pull out some more runs," Suitos said.

Perhaps worried about their coach, the Wildcats looked lost at times Sunday, resulting in their second-straight sweep at the hands of their rivals.

The Cats blew a 6-0 lead, the third time this season they've lost when leading by four or more runs.

The Wildcats (19-8, 0-3 Pac-12) scored the game's first two runs in the third inning. Nicole Bryan, making her first start of the season in replacing outfielder Karissa Buchanan (concussion), flared a single to left-center field with one out.

Hallie Wilson did the same, and the two moved up on Suitos' groundout to third.

Bryan scored on a two-out passed ball, and Wilson came around when Brigette Del Ponte ripped a single.

One inning later, UA's Kristen Arriola pounded a homer off the ASU scoreboard, continuing her hot streak in digging out of a .206 batting average.

Sun Devils ace Dallas Escobedo hit and walked the next two batters, and was removed in favor of Hillary Bach. After Bryan struck out and Wilson reached on an error, Ray called upon Kirker to hit for Suitos.

The junior first baseman doubled off the wall in right-center field to take a 6-0 lead.

"I'm glad Coach Ray believed in me in that situation," Kirker said.

The Sun Devils (31-3, 3-0) rallied back, scoring one in the third and exploding for six runs in the fifth.

"No lead is ever safe," Suitos said.

UA starter Shelby Babcock loaded the bases on two hits and a walk before giving up a grand slam to Haley Steele, cutting UA's lead to 6-5.

That brought in UA ace Kenzie Fowler, who had battled the flu all week, in relief. Fowler sandwiched two singles around a fielder's choice before walking Katelyn Boyd to load the bases.

Fowler walked home the tying and go-ahead runs, too, totaling 12 straight balls, before being lifted for the re-entering Babcock.

"We can't defend the walk," Ray said.

The Wildcats managed only one base runner the rest of the way, a Shelby Pendley single with two outs in the seventh.

"I told them that, obviously, what we're doing right now isn't quite enough, and we have to dig a little deeper," Ray said. "Right now, we're not getting any breaks at all, but you have to create those."

The Wildcats "just have to step it up," Suitos said, before a two-game home series against San Diego State that starts Tuesday.

"I just hope our fans keep supporting us," she said. "We're in a down time right now."

Up next

• Who: San Diego State at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Tuesday