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Why NCAA snubbed BYU’s softball team

Membership in a weak WCC contributed to the Cougar women staying home from postseason play

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BYU’s Huntyr Ava watches ball into her glove at first base during a softball game against Iowa State in Provo.

BYU’s Huntyr Ava watches the ball into her glove at first base for an out during an NCAA softball game against Iowa State in Provo on Saturday, March 26, 2022. Despite winning its last 17 games and being co-champs of the WCC, the Cougars failed to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

This article was first published in the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.

One of the most successful softball teams in school history, a program with multiple streaks, wins and classic dominating statistics will not be advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Fair or unfair? Dave McCann breaks down what happened and why a simple small loss to LMU in early April may have triggered the snub.

Cougar Insiders predictions

Question of the week: What do you think of the BYU women’s softball snub to the NCAAs? Is it a product of playing in the WCC or the BYU Sunday play issue by the committee? Or both?

Jay Drew: I think there are a couple of factors at work here that kept BYU out of the NCAA Softball Tournament. Undoubtedly, the tournament selection committee looks for any and every reason possible to keep the Cougars out of their Big Dance, because BYU’s no-Sunday play policy causes some fairly significant alterations.

Mainly, whichever regional BYU plays in has to be moved up a day to a Thursday-through-Saturday scenario instead of a Friday-through-Sunday deal that is the tournament’s traditional way of doing things.

This year, BYU gave the committee the opportunity to keep them out because the Cougars’ RPI of 52 put them on the bubble.

Even though BYU went 6-3 against Power Five teams in the nonconference portion of its schedule, including a win over tournament-bound Stanford, that combination of an average RPI and the fact that it plays in one of the weakest leagues in college softball, the WCC, was enough to keep them out. Ironically, BYU needed those two games against rival Utah that were canceled by inclement weather to bolster its RPI.

Also, BYU does not have a stellar record in the tournament, which could have been another factor in the snub.

Dick Harmon: I agree that Sunday play and BYU in NCAA regionals has committee members crosseyed and in a bad mood. That is too bad because that is bias based on religion, which is against the law. On the other hand, this has begun to be a whiny point with the fanbase. Albeit a good one, it is getting old.

The fact of the matter is BYU could have made the tournament if they’d defeated LMU and earned the tie-breaker. No question membership in the WCC held BYU’s RPI ranking back. If you play down, you get judged down and this is absolutely the case with BYU’s conference schedule that featured some mercy wins — where the game is stopped because it is so out of hand in runs achieved by a superior opponent.

Fortunately, BYU won’t face a soft schedule in the Big 12 where wins and losses are weighted very differently. Unfortunately, BYU’s softball team, an extremely talented and hardworking squad of young women, will hang it up, season over.

Cougar tales

BYU’s men’s golf team played in the NCAA Regionals in Stockton this week while the women failed to advance in its NCAA regional. 

In track and field, BYU held a final tuneup to the NCAAs and there was a myriad of school and individual records set in Provo.

In men’s basketball, Mark Pope signed a three-star forward out of California named Braeden Moore, another piece of the puzzle for the Cougars. 

A bevy of sprinters who signed to play football for BYU took center stage this past week in Utah. Here is a Doug Robinson piece on why this matters.

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Comments from Deseret News readers

For the last decade with the Utes in the pac 12 and BYU independent, BYU has attempted to play USU each year and has every year other than 2020 due to USU not being able to play.

The Utes haven’t put together any more football contracts for USU other than a 2-for-1 that was in motion when they joined the PAC-12.

Granted BYU had 12 games to fill each year in football rather than three, so the Utes get a partial pass in not scheduling USU — and BYU would get the same consideration going from 12 scheduled games to three.

But both teams have the same opportunity to schedule basketball OCC games with USU — Cougars have each year, the Utes played one game.

Also — you will need to choose between ‘We’re better than BYU fans and don’t want to be expected to have to play them,’ and ‘I can’t believe that BYU fans think they are better than playing the Aggie’, it’s the epitome of hypocrisy in word and action.

— Josh from London

BYU has always done a good job of finding guards, and even a decent job finding small forwards. Braeden looks like he has the potential to be a good stretch 4. Now we just need to find a way to recruit 5’s. In this century, I can only think of a few 5’s that were really impactful on both sides - Plaisted, Davies and Mika. Hopefully Atika can grow into that roll, but Cougs have got to find a way to recruit the bigs.

— CougfaninTexas

Up next

May 17-18 | TBA | Men’s golf | NCAA Regional | @Stockton, California

May 19 | 6 p.m. | Baseball | vs. LMU | @Provo

May 20 | 6 p.m. | Baseball | vs. LMU | @Provo

May 21 | 1 p.m. | Baseball | vs. LMU | @Provo