Featured image of team players/ JWS

The NCAA Softball tournament bracket dropped last night, and with it came some controversy.

Washington, the fifth ranked team in the country and the Pac-12 runner-up, wound up with the 16th seed and hosting a regional. In response, the team walked out of their watch party.

Some have likened Washington’s low-seeding to that of Minnesota in 2017. The Gophers went from being the No. 1 seed in the polls to not even ranked in the top 16 when it came time for selections.

UCLA, who many thought might be able to grab the top overall seed due to a better RPI and strength of schedule than Oklahoma, wound up with the No. 2 seed.

As teams like LSU, Missouri and Tennessee helped the SEC earn six of the top nine seeds and hosting privileges, teams like Arizona State (15), Washington (16) and Oregon received low seeds or no seed at all. All three teams had better RPIs than 14-seed Kentucky and more high-profile wins than 12-seed Texas. 

UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez had a lot to say on the Selection Show about the Pac-12’s seeding.

“To be honest with you, I’m so disappointed,” she said. “In all the years of being a part of this, to have the Pac-12 disrespected to this level, I’m shocked. There were four to five teams that were in the top eight for the majority of the year, and we played each other, and we actually played more games to strengthen our schedule against each other. So I’m shocked and I’m very disappointed.

“I hope the Pac-12 comes in and shows what they are capable of doing because it was a very challenging year and we have some great teams in the Pac. So, we’re all in. It’s a new season. Bring it and let the best teams get to the end.”

Some have attributed a difference in television exposure to some of the reasoning behind the difference in seeding between the PAC-12 and SEC.

Arizona coach Mike Candrea called the Pac-12 Network’s coverage “prehistoric,” saying that it needs to do more to generate exposure for its softball teams. 

The Pac-12 wasn’t the only conference that faced issues with seeding. The Big Ten, playing a conference-only slate, earned no host sites and found themselves with only three teams in the tournament. 

Meanwhile, the SEC nabbed eight out of 16 possible sites. Michigan coach Carol Hutchins did not mince words in calling the bracket “disrespectful” to the entire Big Ten. 

“They have to give credence to all different areas of the country,” she said. “Clearly, there’s a little bias with at least one conference in particular.”

While Michigan came close to hosting (No. 2 seed in the Seattle regional), Minnesota earned the second seed in the Los Angeles regional and Northwestern — the third best team in the Big Ten — are set for a matchup with No. 14 Kentucky after earning the four-seed at the Lexington regional.

Other Big Ten teams didn’t even receive bids, which Illinois assistant coach and Georgia softball alum Laura Trout said was “punishing” to the student-athletes.

Stacey Nuveman Deniz, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and UCLA alum, called it the “worst most ridiculous bracket of all time.”

The full bracket can be found here.