Coach Clint Myers (above) is shown during last weekend's regional at Auburn.
Auburn, Ala.--It’s 1,655 miles from the University of Arizona campus to Jane B. Moore Field, the site of an NCAA softball super regional matching Arizona and Auburn, but the two teams have a very close connection in another respect.
Auburn head coach Clint Myers and Arizona’s head coach, Mike Candrea, share more than being two of the most successful names in women’s college softball.
“I have known Mike for over 30 years, he is a good friend,” says Myers, the former head coach at Arizona State, who is in his third season at Auburn. “Our sons grew up together so as far as the friendship goes we have known each for a long time and competed against each other for even longer. It is going to be interesting on that side of it.”
One of those sons, Corey Myers, is Auburn’s pitching coach and he is helping prepare the Tigers for the best two-out-of-three super regional that starts with a single game at 5:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday.
“Mike Jr. and I, and my brother (Casey), we grew up spending basically every day of the summer together whether it was at our house or his house,” Corey Myers points out. “Both of us had a pool. We spent a lot of time in the pool and playing baseball.
“I reached out to Michael Jr. right when I found out Arizona was coming to see if he would come because it would be the first time we have all been in the same spot since we were younger so he is looking at possibly coming out also,” Corey Myers says.
Corey Myers congratulates first baseman Jade Rhodes (right) after the first baseman hit a home run.
Michael Candrea Jr. is a baseball hitting coach who lives in northern California. Casey Myers, who was Auburn’s hitting coach the past two seasons, is in southern California working for Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres.
With Clint Myers coaching third base and Mike Candrea coaching first base, their sons played on state championship summer baseball teams in 14-and-under, 16-and-under and 18-and-under leagues.
Clint Myers says he has a high level of respect for Candrea, who has led Arizona to eight national championships in his 31 seasons as a head coach in Tucson.
Auburn gets the home field advantage as the No. 4 national seed. Arizona knocked off a seeded team from the SEC, Tennessee, to advance to the super regional round.
“We knew whoever, Tennessee or Arizona, they were going to be a good team and we were going to have to play good softball to continue on,” Clint Myers says. “It will be a little different seeing Mike over there. His team has done a great job. They beat a good team in Tennessee and they deserve to be here. We are going to have to play two very good games to win.”
Myers adds that the Wildcats feature a roster with “good athletes” who are well coached. “They haven’t been to the College World Series in five years so they are a little hungry so we just have to go out there and play Auburn softball,” he says. “If we can do that I?think we have got a good shot.”