The Washington Husky softball team was starting to wonder if it was going to be included in the NCAA tournament while watching the selection show Sunday night, with 60 teams having been selected and Washington not among them.
There was, of course, no way that the No. 5-ranked Huskies would not be part of the 64-team field, and the angst ended when it was announced they were the No. 16 seed.
The angst might have ended, but the anger was just starting, particularly among fans who were flummoxed that UW was not seeded higher after finishing the season 41-11 and second in the Pac-12 at 18-5.
“For 60 teams being announced ahead of us, for us it was unexpected,” UW coach Heather Tarr said. “We come here to try and get a top-eight seed (which means hosting regional and super regional rounds). … But as we all know, the game will go on. The game does not know what seed we are, the game doesn’t know anything but that the fact it will go on, and we will be ready to compete, and we are excited to be at home and have this opportunity again.”
As one of 16 seeds, Washington hosts a four-team regional this weekend, and opens play Friday night at 7:30 against Portland State (15-24). Seattle U (29-19) and Michigan (36-6) play the game before at 5.
Play continues Saturday and Sunday with one team advancing, most likely to a super regional at No. 1 seed Oklahoma. But the Huskies are not looking ahead.
“Never take anything for granted,” Tarr said.
“7:30 on Friday is the only thing on our minds right now,” UW junior outfielder Sami Reynolds said.
The grousing elsewhere will undoubtedly continue, and the Huskies certainly weren’t pleased with the seeding either. Tarr said the feedback she has received from the NCAA was that “the reason for our unexpected low seed was because our wins were against too low of RPI teams.”
The Huskies, who were on camera as part of the selection show, walked out of the room and off the show as soon as their seed was announced.
“Yes, we did walk ourselves out of there, because yes, we felt like we earned a higher seed,” Tarr said. “Once that was over, it was over, and on to the planning.”
Tarr said the team has received a lot of outside support in the past week.
“This maybe sounds extreme, but it’s as if someone has died and they’re consoling us,” Tarr said. “It’s OK. We’re going to be OK. … We’re going to be ready to play.”
Said senior second baseman Taryn Atlee: “We were a little taken aback (by the seeding), but we are also on to the next (game), and excited to play the game this Friday.”
The Huskies are certainly not the only team who feels they were underseeded, even if they have received the most attention. Michigan might also have a reason to gripe at not being one of the 16 seeded teams after winning the Big Ten by seven games.
Tarr said every year there is a team that “this story is about” when it comes to getting a lower seed than expected.
“We didn’t want to be that (team), but we can do it,” Tarr said. “We’re not so fragile that we can’t deal with it.”
Washington senior pitcher Gabbie Plain was named one of three finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.
Plain is the first Husky since Danielle Lawrie in 2010 — who won the award — to be named one of the three finalists.
Plain is 29-2 with a 1.19 ERA, with a nation-leading 300 strikeouts in 200 1/3 innings. She has 11 shutouts and two no-hitters.
“What an opportunity for us to have a pitcher like Gabbie in our program, to be so renowned and respected at that level,” Tarr said.