UHH Softball Sits Tenth in NCAA West Region Rankings
The University of Hawai`i at Hilo softball team will need some help if it wants to play in the postseason this year.
The NCAA Wednesday released its first set of regional rankings, which determines the field for every regional postseason tournament. The top eight teams in each region are selected to play in a sub-regional tournament, with winners advancing through several rounds until a champion is crowned.
UH-Hilo sits at tenth, two spots behind Cal State San Bernardino for the final postseason spot. With two weekends of games remaining, teams can maneuver themselves in or out of the postseason race. The fact that the Vulcans are in the conversation with a 19-17 record, however, makes head coach Jaime Wallin a bit surprised.
“I kinda thought that we needed to stay around 10 losses or less in order to get a nod, but I think what really helped us is our strength of schedule this year,” Wallin said in a radio interview Tuesday. “Numbers wise, from those top ten teams, I think we’ve played six of those teams, not just doubleheaders, but multiple games against them. That really helped us in being ranked.”
UH-Hilo faced conference for Dixie State, slotted second in the region, four times late in March. The Vulcans lost all four of those games on the road. Two days after that series, Wallin’s squad picked up a pair of upset victories at UC San Diego, currently ranked third in the region.
Another conference foe, California Baptist, sits fourth in the rankings. The Vulcans faced them four times on the road in mid-February but was only able to secure one victory in the series. Fifth-ranked Humboldt State beat UH-Hilo at the Desert Stinger by an 11-10 margin on Feb. 7.
Bernardino holds an edge of the Vulcans. Ranked eighth in the region, the Coyotes took a pair of non-conference games from UH-Hilo on March 26. Ninth-ranked Western Washington was the only ranked team to come to Hawai`i to face the Vulcans, with one catch. The doubleheader was played in Honolulu at the Sand Island Softball Complex and each had a chance at being the designated “home team.”
The Vulcans finish out the regular season next weekend with six PacWest games. UH Hilo heads to Laie to face BYU-Hawai`i in a doubleheader on Fri., April 25. The next day, the Vulcans visit Hawai`i Pacific University for another twin-bill. HPU took a game from UH-Hilo on April 12 at the Vulcans’ Softball Field.
On Sun., April 27, UH-Hilo takes on Chaminade in the final scheduled doubleheader of the season. Both teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader on Sunday before bad weather cancelled those plans. Those games could be made up, depending on UH-Hilo’s postseason hopes.
“We’ve discussed it as a department,” said Wallin. “We’re idle this weekend so we don’t have any games. We’ll take a look at the rankings next week and…we’ll see where we sit. If we’re still in that ninth/tenth spot or somewhere in there, I think there’s a strong possibility that we’re gonna make up those games.”
A disadvantage to the final stretch of games is that all opponents currently have losing records. HPU is 16-21 overall, but has a 14-12 conference record, which puts them above UH-Hilo in the PacWest standings. BYU-Hawai`i is 10-18 overall and has lost its last four games. Chaminade is below the Seasiders’ in the conference, sitting in tenth place with an 8-29 overall record.
NCAA West Region Softball Rankings (released April 16)
1. Cal State Monterey Bay (38-5 overall, 36-5 region)
2. Dixie State (35-8, 35-8)
3. UC San Diego (30-9, 30-9)
4. California Baptist (33-11, 33-11)
5. Humboldt State (36-11, 36-11)
6. Sonoma State (31-15, 29-15)
7. Central Washington (23-13, 23-13)
8. Cal State San Bernardino (25-21, 25-21)
9. Western Washington (21-11, 21-11)
10. Hawai`i-Hilo (19-17, 19-17)