Sunday night, members of the Texas softball team booked a trip to Seattle.
Seattle is usually a popular destination at this time of year. There is plenty to do in the Emerald City. And although it hit 97 degrees in Austin on Sunday, temperatures are not expected to rise above the mid-60s in Seattle next week.
However, the Longhorns didn’t seem too excited about their travel plans. Going to Seattle means Texas didn’t get a top-16 seed or hosting rights for the regional portion of the NCAA tournament. Texas will instead face Weber State on Friday in the Washington Region opener.
“I know we were planning on hosting course,” UT shortstop Alyssa Washington said. “But I think we’re all excited.”
The Longhorns thought they had done enough to secure another softball weekend at McCombs Field. The team went 38-17-1, finished in third place in the Big 12 standings, and reached the semifinals of its conference tournament. One of the country’s biggest wins this season has been UT 4-2 upset by undefeated Oklahoma on April 16. Texas had a top-16 RPI and was ranked 16th in the latest NFCA poll.
The NCAA selection committee, however, didn’t think Texas had a strong enough resume.
On Sunday, Washington (35-15) won the 13th seed. The NCAA then awarded the three regional finals to Florida (43-16), Missouri (36-20) and Central Florida (46-12).
According to D1Softball, UCF, Washington and Missouri all have lower RPIs than Texas. Like Texas, Washington ranked third in its conference standings, but the Pac-12 sent more teams to the NCAA Tournament than the Big 12. Missouri reached the championship game at the SEC Tournament. Central Florida swept the American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles.
“I’ve been on committees before and it’s tough,” Texas coach Mike White said. “It’s hard to please everyone and every year you think there’s a deserving team that deserves to be in and they do. We’re one of those teams that maybe deserved to be in it. be in but that’s what it is.
“Obviously they didn’t feel like we had the volume of work to accommodate. We have to live with that fact and go out there and do better next year and take care of business this year if we we can.”
Texas was among the schools that installed a camera to capture the team’s live reaction to learning of its playoff fate during Sunday’s broadcast of the NCAA Selection Show. While a team like Weber State celebrated with shouts and hugs, Texas had a response that an ESPN2 commentator called “interesting.”
Some of the Longhorns cheered after UT’s name was called. Others sat face to face in stone. A few players were left speechless.
In a meeting with the media afterwards, Janae Jefferson said the Longhorns were grateful to be able to play in the playoffs. The All-American infielder later admitted the team felt snubbed.
“I feel like in a way that’s a motivation for us to go out there and be the best team we can be,” Jefferson said. “It all starts now. Just seeing that reaction and seeing where they ranked us and everything, it gave us that extra push to prove people wrong.”
Texas now turns its attention to a Weber State team that won the Big Sky Conference championship. Texas and Weber State (38-10) have only played twice before, but one of those meetings came in 2020.
More familiarity exists between Texas and Washington. Twenty-six games exist in this all-time series. Jefferson was a freshman when Texas played in a region hosted by the Huskies in 2018. There are still half a dozen players on UT’s roster who have been in a top-three battle. between the Longhorns and the Huskies during the 2020 season. White also went 17-9 against Washington while coaching Oregon from 2010 to 2018.
White said the team’s prep work for the double-elimination competition will primarily focus on Weber State. And “just to make sure we’re covering the basics,” UT will also study Washington and a Lehigh program it’s never faced.
“I just want to see us end the year playing softball any way we can, no matter where we end up, whether it’s over there at the regional in Washington or the next Super Regional or whether it continues in the World Series. ,” White mentioned. “This team is talented. I just don’t think we’ve been consistent like we need to be.”