'Disrespect': Michigan softball won't host NCAA Regional, will head to Seattle
Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins, whose team won the Big Ten title a week ago, is livid the Wolverines will not be hosting an NCAA Regional this weekend. Instead, they will head to Seattle.
The 18th-ranked Wolverines (36-6) will face Seattle University (29-19) in the double-elimination regional at 8 p.m. Friday on ESPN2, it was revealed during the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday night. Seattle University won the Western Athletic Conference championship last Saturday, its second straight conference title.
Washington, the host and No. 16 overall seed, is 41-11 and will face Portland State. The winner of the regional will advance to the Super Regionals, likely against No. 1 overall seed Oklahoma. The College World Series begins June 3 in Oklahoma City.
"(The NCAA selection committee) absolutely did not do a very good job," Hutchins, in her 37th season as Michigan head coach, said Sunday night. "They disrespected our entire conference and you know what, they have to give credence to all different areas of the country. Clearly there’s a little bias with at least one conference in particular. I would say the NCAA committee, I’m not very pleased with at all.
"Disrespect. No more comment. Don’t ask me about them."
There are five Southeastern Conference teams among the top-eight seeds and seven SEC teams overall are hosting a regional. Three Big Ten teams made the NCAA Tournament field, including Minnesota, who was also sent West to play in the regional hosted by No. 2 UCLA. Northwestern is in the Kentucky regional.
Big Ten teams played a Big Ten-only schedule this year and fewer games than SEC teams.
“They absolutely said it’s just tough luck you didn’t get to play outside your conference," Hutchins said of the NCAA selection committee. "We didn’t get to play outside our conference, and you know what? That’s on the conference."
Michigan went 15-1 in its final 16 games, including a four-game series against Rutgers over the weekend. The Wolverines outscored Rutgers, 24-0, during a doubleheader this past Saturday. Meghan Beaubien pitched a perfect game in the second contest, the first of her collegiate career. Beaubien, a left-hander, and right-hander Alex Storako are two of the best pitchers in the country. Storako has a 0.88 ERA and 252 strikeouts, while Beaubien has a 1.14 ERA with 186 strikeouts.
Lexie Blair leads the Wolverines with a .411 batting average and Lou Allan and Taylor Bump lead the team with 10 home runs apiece.
Hutchins said the team handled the news well Sunday night.
"When I walked in the locker room to address them, they all clapped and they’re in good spirits," she said. "I’m certain that they’re disappointed, but if they got their hopes — we told them, don’t anybody get your hopes up — and now we have a task to do. Period.
"We’re just playing to win. We’re not going to dwell on something we don’t control. We just watched the show. I certainly feel that the Big Ten didn’t get much respect. We’re the Big Ten champion. We didn’t get much respect, but we’re in the tournament and now we’re going to focus on that."
The Wolverines will travel to Seattle on Wednesday.
Hutchins has led the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament 28 times. The Wolverines won the 2005 national title and were runners-up in 2015.