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Michigan softball coach not pleased with selection committee after NCAA Tournament draw

MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City logo MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City 5/17/2021 Ryan Zuke, mlive.com
a man holding a frisbee: Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins points to a player on deck during Michigan's softball game against Michigan State at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor Tuesday, April 23 2019. © Jacob Hamilton | jhamilt3@mlive./Jacob Hamilton Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins points to a player on deck during Michigan's softball game against Michigan State at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor Tuesday, April 23 2019.

Hours after Michigan’s softball team beat Rutgers on Sunday to cap the regular season and a four-game sweep, it gathered to watch the NCAA Tournament Selection Show hoping its 36-6 record and Big Ten title would be enough to earn it the right to host a regional.

Head coach Carol Hutchins and the players were dismayed by their tournament draw. The 18th-ranked Wolverines were not one of the top 16 seeds that get to host a regional and will instead travel across the country to Seattle, where Washington is the host school and No. 16 overall seed.

Michigan is a No. 2 seed in the region and will open against No. 3 seed Seattle at 8 p.m. Friday.

STORY: Michigan softball won’t host NCAA regional, heads to Seattle

“The NCAA committee, I’m not very pleased with at all,” Hutchins said after Sunday’s selection show. “They disrespected our entire conference, and you know what, they have to give credence to all different areas of the country, and clearly, there’s a little bias with at least one conference in particular.”

Although Hutchins did not identify the conference she was referring to, she likely was talking about the Southeastern Conference. Twelve SEC teams earned tournament berths, including seven that are hosting regionals.

The Big Ten received just three bids – Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern – and none are hosting.

“We’re just playing to win,” Hutchins said. “We’re not gonna dwell on something we don’t control. We just watched the show. I certainly feel that the Big Ten didn’t get much respect. We’re the Big Ten champion; we didn’t get much respect. But we’re in the tournament now. We’re going to focus on that.”

Michigan was seemingly penalized for having to play a conference-only schedule in 2021. The Wolverines and Golden Gophers are the only two ranked Big Ten teams, while Michigan owns the highest RPI ranking from the league at No. 31.

Meanwhile, other conferences were able to play nonleague games, and most started the season sooner than the Big Ten.

“They absolutely said it’s just tough luck you didn’t get to play outside your conference,” Hutchins said of the NCAA selection committee. “We didn’t get to play outside our conference, and you know what? That’s on the conference.”

The Wolverines, who have won 15 of their past 16 games, are in the NCAA Tournament for a 26th straight time, although they have hosted a regional just once in the past four full seasons.

This year, they outscored opponents 208-55 and were led by its stringent pitching staff. Michigan entered this weekend No. 3 nationally with a 1.17 ERA. Junior Alex Storako (21-3, 0.88 ERA) and senior Meghan Beaubien (15-3, 1.14 ERA) formed one of the top duos in the country.

RELATED: Michigan softball’s Alex Storako maintains one-pitch focus amid historic season

Hutchins said the team will spend the next few days getting familiarized with its regional opponents. Portland State is the fourth team in the region.

“I don’t know anything about anybody,” she said. “I’ve been only focused on Rutgers, and I just found out who we’re playing. We’ve got a couple days. Of course, we’ll spend all day Wednesday traveling.”

RELATED: Here are Michigan softball’s best 25 players of all time

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