The D-1 Softball Committee revealed on Sunday that the Michigan softball team will travel to Seattle in the NCAA regional.
The Seattle regional is a double-elimination bracket consisting of the home team in No. 16 Washington, Michigan, Western Athletic Conference champion Seattle, and Big Sky Conference champion Portland State. Michigan will face Seattle to open its regional battle on Friday night.
Although Washington was ranked 16th by the committee, securing the final regional host site of the tournament, its resume suggests that they are a far-stronger team than that. The Huskies were ranked No. 5 in the nation entering the final weekend of the season. They went 41-11, and will pose a serious challenge for the Wolverines.
Due to Seattle being the 16th and final regional host in the tournament, Michigan will most likely be forced to travel to Norman, Okla. to face the No.1 Oklahoma softball team, should it survive the difficult Seattle regional.
The selection comes after a strong season for the Wolverines. They partook in a conference-only schedule in the Big Ten, posting a 36-6 record, and winning its 22nd conference title. The Wolverines’ resume is highlighted by key series wins against Northwestern and No. 23 Minnesota, the two other teams representing the Big Ten in the NCAA tournament.
Michigan enters the NCAA tournament hot, winning 15 of its last 16 games. Matching up with Washington on its home field, however, will most likely be the team’s most difficult test of the season.
In a meeting with reporters following the selection, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins voiced her displeasure in the committee’s decision to send the Wolverines to Seattle, in a regional housing a top five team in the nation, as opposed to hosting the regional at Alumni field after her team produced a successful season in the Big Ten.
“(The committee) absolutely did not do a very good job,” Hutchins said. “They disrespected our entire conference … I’m not very pleased with (them) at all.”
Last season’s NCAA softball tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last installment of the tournament in 2019, Michigan hosted a regional in Ann Arbor, where they fell to James Madison University.
Michigan has reached the NCAA tournament in every season since 1995. In that span, it has advanced to the super regionals 18 times, and continued to the College World Series 12 times. It won the national championship in 2005.
The Wolverines have failed to advance to a super regional in their past three attempts, marking the longest such stretch since their NCAA tournament streak began in 1995. They will look to end their dry spell this weekend, with regionals beginning on Friday.