As Mike Candrea's Olympic Softball team made its way to Athens in 2004, he spoke about not just winning, but of the United States dominating the competition. The Americans did, outscoring their opponents an absurd 51-1 and capturing the gold medal. It was not the first time Candrea dominated an event, and it likely will not be the last. Candrea might be the most successful college head coach in any sport. Candrea has almost too many accomplishments to list. As the head coach at the University of Arizona for the last 19 years, his Wild Cats have won six National Championships, earned 17 trips to the Women's College World Series and advanced to the championship game 10 times. He has been named National Coach of the Year three times (1994, 1996, 1997). Some of Candrea's yearly averages break down to this: a record of 54-11; 3.4 All-Americans; more than five NCAA Tournament wins; 2.4 College World Series game wins. A renowned teacher, the U. S. Olympic Committee honored Candrea with the "Olympic Shield" award in 2004, the most prestigious award within the U.S. Olympic Movement, for his work with the softball program. The USOC also honored him in 2004 as its Coach of the Year. Since 1988, his players have earned 72 All-America citations for 33 different players Candrea's teams have made 19 of 20 trips to the NCAA Tournament (1987-2005) In 19 seasons as Arizona's coach, Candrea has 1027-record and a .835 winning percentage Candrea also holds a position on the USA Softball Women's National Team Selection Committee
The scene's been played out several times to the same result. Jennie Finch, visiting with a Major League team as part of her This Week in Baseball hosting duties, eventually has several players take a whirl and try to hit the her best pitches.
Finch takes the softball, whips one of her fastballs or 'riseballs,' and the Major Leaguer weakly fouls it off. Or he swings and misses. Or sometimes he won't even swing. Major Leaguers can't hit Jennie Finch, and no else can, either.
Finch shot to fame as the country's most dominant pitcher with the University of Arizona in 2001 when she led the Wild Cats to the 2001 NCAA title and went 32-0, an NCAA record for wins in a season without a loss. At one point Finch won 60 straight games, another NCAA record.
Finch has become one of the most recognizable athletes in the United States, and her popularity has only increased since she left college. TWIB hosting duties, endorsements and tournaments have kept her in the public eye. She went 2-0 and helped the U.S. win a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Her fame and the rising popularity of softball helped the National Pro Fastpitch League start up again recently.