It’s been several years, but the Oregon Ducks softball team is back in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, in a surprising turn of events, the Ducks will not host a Regional despite a 37-15 overall record and finishing third in the Pac-12.
Instead, a date with former coach Mike White is on the horizon as Oregon will travel to No. 12 overall seed Texas and play in the Austin Regional alongside Texas State, Saint Francis (PA), and the host Longhorns.
The Ducks open up with Texas State Friday, May 21 at 4:30 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN3. The Bobcats finished the regular season with a 38-12 overall record. Saint Francis, who comes into Austin with a 40-8 mark, will take on the 39-11 Longhorns to open up the double-elimination Regional at 3 p.m. PST.
The various NCAA committees have had a history of setting up matchups that might be intriguing to fans as well as the media and have passed them off as coincidence. But pitting the Ducks against the coach that put the program on the map isn’t a coincidence.
White left the Ducks for Texas after taking Oregon to the 2018 Women’s College Series. In White’s last season, the Ducks went 53-10. When he left, the Ducks hired Melyssa Lombardi and after a mass defection of players, it took her just one full season and part of 2020 to get the back to prominence with an NCAA tourney birth.
In order to set up this “coincidence,” Eugene was passed over as a Regional site. Texas hosting a Regional isn’t a surprise. Oregon not hosting certainly is. If Oregon should get out of Austin as the winners, the Ducks will most likely travel to Tuscaloosa to face the No. 4 overall seed barring a giant upset.
According to the NCAA RPI rankings, the main formula the committee usually looks at when determines sites, the Ducks were No. 15. But Oregon was passed over for the likes of Duke, Kentucky, Arizona State, and Washington.
The Ducks had a better conference record than Arizona, ASU, and Washington, and Oregon has a better RPI ranking than Regional hosts Washington (16) and Kentucky (18). But for whatever reason, Jane Sanders Stadium was passed over.
UCLA, the defending national champions, is the No. 2 overall seed with its 41-4 record with two of those four losses coming to Oregon. The Pac-12 received six bids with Stanford also getting an at-large.
It wasn’t all disappointing news for Ducks, however. The Pac-12 announced its annual awards and Oregon was properly represented. Allee Bunker, Haley Cruse, and pitcher Brooke Yanez were all First-Team conference selections. Alyssa Brito and Terra McGowan were on the Second Team with Hannah Delgado on the Third Team.
Brito and Bunker were on the All-Defensive squad with Brito and Delgado on the All-Freshmen team.