Eriksen: NCAA softball snub 'tough to swallow'
One day after the NCAA selection committee passed over USF's softball team for its 64-team postseason field, Bulls softball coach Ken Eriksen was still disappointed that four teams lower in the RPI ratings where chosen instead of his team.
"We had inconsistency throughout the year, had our ups and downs, but we did what the NCAA required us to do," said Eriksen, speaking to the difficulty of his nonconference scheduling. "It's hard for me to think that the fourth-best team in the Big East isn't in, when the eighth or ninth teams are in from a different conference."
Eriksen, whose Bulls finished 34-22, took specific exception to the NCAA choosing Mississippi State, which finished ninth in the SEC and didn't even earn a spot in its own conference tournament. The Bulldogs finished 28-26, and only after the school added an unscheduled doubleheader last week against Mississippi Valley State, giving the team two wins Friday to push it above .500. Mississippi State finished 8-19 in the SEC, including a 4-18 mark against the eight SEC teams that made the conference tournament -- and the NCAA cut.
"If you're up against a team that didn't make its own (conference) tournament, it's tough to swallow for your kids," Eriksen said. "There's a yearly inconsistency that's a little disconcerting. ... I want to know why."
Asked if he thought the Big East was down this year to get only three teams in the NCAA field, Eriksen said he feels the opposite way, that the league was improved from a year ago. Last year, the Big East rated ninth in the conference RPI rankings at WarrenNolan.com, and those same rankings have the Big East sixth. Last year's Big East had four teams in the RPI top 75 and none in the top 20; this year's has six in the top 75 and two in the top 20. Last year, the Big East put four teams in the NCAAs, but there were just three this season.
But USF didn't have a huge win on its resume, going 3-13 against top 50 opponents, with none of the three against major-conference teams or in the past eight weeks. The Bulls went 0-9 against RPI top 20 opponents, while Mississippi State, for instance, had four, beating Georgia (5), Florida State (9) and Tennessee (16) twice.