It took awhile to hear its name, but Arizona State will host a regional in the NCAA softball tournament.
The Sun Devils earned the 15-seed and the Tempe Regional will host Virginia Tech, an at-large from the ACC, BYU, the West Coast Conference champs, and Southern Illinois as the Missouri Valley Tournament Champions.
This will be the lone regional that starts on Thursday, May 20, as BYU does not play on Sundays.
The field in Tempe is a pretty tough draw for the Sun Devils. Virginia Tech has one of the best pitchers in the nation in Keely Rochard.
BYU also gave ASU trouble all the way back in February when the Devils needed a late-inning rally and a walk-off blast to beat the Cougars.
Southern Illinois won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament by beating top-seeded Illinois State and fellow tournament team Northern Iowa.
Nevertheless, the biggest issue from Sunday’s bracket reveal was the lack of respect for the Pac-12, which is regarded as one of the best conferences in the sport with the SEC.
Many thought UCLA would earn the tournament’s top seed over Oklahoma because the Bruins’ had a higher RPI and better strength of schedule than the Sooners.
Oklahoma got the first seed and UCLA got the second seed, which of course sets up a potential Super Regional matchup with Arizona State. This wasn’t really the big issue.
The SEC ended up with six of the top nine seeds and five of the top eight seeds. Meanwhile, Arizona was the first Pac-12 team after UCLA to see its name presented on ESPN2. The Wildcats were the 11-seed.
After Arizona State, Washington, the team that placed second in the conference standings got the final top-16 seed. How did the Huskies react? By walking out of their auditorium.
This was absolutely justifiable. Glad they walked out. Total disrespect from the committee. pic.twitter.com/nYkeu4Y0ON— Aaron Levine (@AaronQ13Fox) May 17, 2021
Oregon was on the hosting bubble. Instead of a Eugene Regional, the committee sent the Ducks to 12-seed Texas to face their former coach Mike White and a handful of players that used to represent Oregon.
The Ducks also had more ranked wins and a better strength of schedule than the Longhorns. But the Longhorns had a better RPI, which was helped by going 0-7 against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, which were four and five in the RPI.
Two of the biggest names in the conference made their voices heard as well. UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez summed up a lot people’s thoughts in her interview during the selection show television broadcast.
“To be honest with you, I’m so disappointed,” she said. “In all the years of being a part of this, to have the Pac-12 disrespected to this level, I’m shocked. There were four to five teams that were in the top eight for the majority of the year, and we played each other, and we actually played more games to strengthen our schedule against each other. So I’m shocked and I’m very disappointed...I hope the Pac-12 comes in and shows what they are capable of doing because it was a very challenging year and we have some great teams in the Pac. So, we’re all in. It’s a new season. Bring it and let the best teams get to the end.”
Down south, Arizona coach Mike Candrea told the local media that he felt like Washington did, and the conference needs to do a better job broadcasting itself.
“I kind of felt like Washington when they walked out. I thought that was probably the right thing to do at that time because it just doesn’t make sense,” Candrea said. “...It’s broken right now. It is a conference of champions, but you can’t just sit on a conference of champions. We’ve got to do much more.
“When I turn on the SEC Network, they’ve got a show that looks like ESPN and they’ve got every highlight of every game going on in baseball and softball. I mean, it’s a big production and obviously that’s going to catch eyes. And unfortunately, you turn on the Pac-12 Network right now and all you see is a bunch of replays of games that have already been done. And people are smart enough right now to know that because of social media. They’re pretty updated on things, and yeah it’s pretty prehistoric right now. We need to do something to fix it.”
Arizona State Schedule
Thursday, May 20 (All times are Arizona Time/Pacific Time)
BYU vs. Virginia Tech - 4:30 p.m. on ESPN3
No. 15 seed Arizona State vs. Southern Illinois - 7:00 p.m. on ESPN3
Friday, May 21, 2021
Game 3 – 1:00pm
Game 4 – 3:30pm
Game 5 – 6:00pm
Saturday, May 22, 2021
Game 6 – 3:00pm
Game 7 (if necessary) – 5:30pm