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ASU Baseball & Softball: RPI, Regional hosting potential look-in

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Can both host?

Richard Martinez/ House of Sparky

Arizona State’s baseball and softball teams had a rough week this past week. Tracy Smith’s crew went 1-3 after they dropped a midweek contest with Long Beach State and then lost their first series of the year in Los Angeles to USC. While at Farrington, Trisha Ford and company were swept by the top-ranked UCLA Bruins and extended their losing streak to six. Despite all that each team still has a high chance at hosting.

Baseball: 26-4, 9-3 Pac-12 (T-2nd), RPI: 23

The Sun Devils come in this week with an RPI of 23, before their worst week of the season, ASU checked in at 8. A team with four losses may raise eyebrows at 23, but a strength of schedule of 204 has crushed ASU’s RPI. However, with Oregon State, UCLA and Stanford on the horizon, ASU’s SOS with get a major boost.

If the Sun Devils can take two of the three top-10 series against the three-headed monster at the top of the Pac-12, they’d put themselves in a prime position to not only host, but be in contention for a top eight national seed. The only issue that might arise with four teams of high quality from the same conference is the willingness of the selection committee to give four national seeds to the west coast.

A road series with Nebraska can also be a help for the Sun Devils as the Huskers have a decent RPI themselves. ASU can’t drop multiple midweek contests, however, as all of their opponents left in the midweek games have a RPI of 95 or over.

Here’s a look at the average RPI of hosts from last season:

Average RPI of hosts in 2018: 9.9

Lowest RPI of a host in 2018: 22 (13th seed Texas)

Rest of the schedule (RPI): @ UNLV (129), vs Oregon State x3 (3), vs Seattle (242), @ Utah x3 (111), vs UNLV (129), @ Washington x3 (69), vs UCLA x3 (1), @ Arizona (95), @ Nebraska x3 (40), @ Cal x3 (68), vs Stanford x3 (11)

Softball: 25-14, 5-7 Pac-12 (5th), RPI: 31

For there to be another regional at Farrington Stadium for back-to-back seasons, Trisha Ford’s team needs to get back to winning. A tough stretch against Arizona and UCLA, who are both still undefeated in conference play, has put ASU on a six-game losing skid. By that way, it may look as if the Sun Devils have no shot at hosting this season. Although, that’s not the case.

It’s very reasonable that the selection committee wants to have the Pac-12, a top two conference in softball, host at least four regionals. Last season, the conference hosted five, including four top eight seeds. It seems the battle for fourth in the Pac will be between Stanford and ASU, as it’s nearly guaranteed that UCLA, Arizona and Washington will host once again this season.

The Sun Devils will finish the season with Cal and Oregon, two teams that have combined for two Pac-12 wins. For ASU to give themselves a chance at hosting again, they’ll need to finish the season at least 5-1 in those two final series. They will also need to perform better in their next two series against Washington and Stanford to help their resume.

Even if ASU finishes with an even or below .500 conference record it still gives them a shot to host. Last year, Kentucky got the final regional host with a SEC record of 8-15 and finished 10th in the conference.

Here’s a look at the average RPI of hosts from last season:

Average RPI of hosts in 2018: 8.5

Lowest RPI of a host in 2018: 17 (13th seed Arkansas)

Rest of the schedule (RPI): @ Washington x3 (5), @ Stanford x3 (22), vs Cal x3 (62), @ Oregon x3 (42)