Softball strikes out — BYU absent from NCAA tournament for first time since 2004

BYU’s streak of 16 consecutive softball postseason appearances came to a dramatic end Sunday night, as the Cougars were denied an at-large bid for the 2022 NCAA softball tournament.

“We are deeply disappointed we did not receive a bid to the NCAA tournament,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “This year’s team is playing great softball and deserved a shot. We will respect the committee’s decision and use it as a motivator to get better going forward.”

The lack of postseason action came as a surprise to many, with BYU finishing the season with 17 straight victories, posted its best record in school history at 42-10 and won its 13th consecutive conference championship. BYU shared this season’s WCC crown with LMU, and since LMU owned the head-to-head tie-breaker over BYU, the Lions were granted an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament while the Cougars were left to wait for their name to be called on Sunday’s selection show to no avail.

BYU’s statistics stacked up favorably on the national stage, ranking in the country’s top 10 in on base percentage (OBP), batting average and scoring along with finishing 16th in earned run average (ERA) on the mound.

In terms of rating percentage index (RPI) — the NCAA formula to rank teams based on season results and strength of schedule— BYU finished at 52 nationally, ranking higher than LMU (57) and 19 other teams within the 64-team bracket.

“It is an absolute failure and joke by the NCAA softball tournament committee to leave BYU out,” BYUtv softball broadcaster Spencer Linton said via Twitter. “Their ‘RPI justification’ needs to die a thousand deaths in all sports.”

RPI aside, dropping two of three games at home to LMU in April ultimately kept the Cougars out of the postseason, with the limited schedule of just 15 total WCC games making each loss much more costly in comparison to other leagues. In addition, BYU and LMU were the only teams in the conference with winning records, making the largely mediocre, six-team WCC a long shot to receive multiple tournament bids despite BYU’s substantial case for inclusion.

Was BYU’s rejection from postseason play justified or not? That’s for you to decide.

The Cougars look to begin a new run of postseason dominance next season and beyond, with star outfielder Violet Zavodnik, first baseman Huntyr Ava and ace pitcher Chloe Temples leading a returning group looking to add a 14th consecutive conference title to BYU’s trophy case.

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