Alabama (42-16) just barely sneaked in to hosting duties in the NCAA softball regionals, a four team three day double elimination tournament. Only sixteen teams of the 64 qualifiers win the right to stay home for the first round of the tournament, and Alabama finished as the #16 seed. As a result, Patrick Murphy’s squad is stuck with an extremely tough opponent. The Tide will face, among others, the Minnesota Golden Gophers who got royally snubbed by the selection committee. Here’s a link to the brackets.
Despite the best record (54-3, yes 54-3!) in college softball this season and being the Big 10 Tournament champion, Minnesota was not chosen to host a regional. The committee says Minnesota did not beat a top 10 team so....that’s their lousy excuse anyway. So one can only imagine there will be some rightfully angry Golden Gophers showing up at the Rhoads House on Friday. The other two teams coming to Tuscaloosa May 18-21 for the regional are Louisiana Tech (37-22) and Albany (27-16)
Alabama is the only NCAA team that has made it to all twelve WCWS super-regionals but the year’s test, particularly with the Gophers in the grouping, will be stern. The question is can the Tide get some runs to take the pressure off the pitching staff who have largely held the team together this season? Time will tell.
Were Alabama to somehow make it past Minnesota and get to the super-regional they would then head to Gainesville the following weekend of May 25-27 for a match up against the #1 seed Florida Gators in a best two of three series. Nothing about getting back to Oklahoma City will be easy. And unless a miracle happens, it’s hard to see the World Series in this team’s future.
As much as I love our Bama radio broadcast team, I knew they was wrong when they surmised that, despite playing so well in Knoxville, Ole Miss would not be picked to host but would be a tough visitor at somebody’s else’s regional. I felt Alabama was more on the bubble than the Rebels and I was right. SEC Tournament champ Ole Miss actually finished as the #12 seed, well ahead of Bama, and the Rebels will host their first ever regionals. They will face Arizona State, North Carolina, and Southern Illinois. The eye test matters and any committee member can see Alabama’s glaring weaknesses as well as the fan base.
Kudos to the SEC:
All thirteen SEC softball teams were among the top 64 teams chosen to participate in the playoffs. For those of us feeling consternation about Alabama’s season, consider Georgia. Last season, the Bulldogs made it the World Series as one of the eight finalists. This year Georgia didn’t even make the 12 team SEC Tournament field. They will open regional play in the Tallahassee bracket against a very tough Florida State team.
[Ed. note: Vandy does not field a softball team.]
May 19-21 at Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Minnesota (54-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (37-22) 1:30pm CT, ESPNU
Albany (NY) (27-16) vs. No. 16 seed Alabama (42-16) 4:00pm CT, SEC NETWORK