UL Softball Should Be On Pace To Be A National Seed
Louisiana's Ragin' Cajun softball team swept a three-game, Sun Belt Conference series from the FAU Owls over the weekend, wrapping-up another unbeaten week, and elevating their season record to an impressive 41-2.
There's still a lot of softball left, something in which I'll talk about, but I've believed for some time now, and still do, that Louisiana could, and should, be on-pace to secure one of the eight national seeds at season's end.
I don't follow rpi as closely as some others. I have an understanding of it...I just don't follow it as closely. That being said, I understand that UL's rpi can only go down from this point on.
They just finished a series with a 13-32 FAU team. That hurts, even with a sweep.
They will play a decent WKU team this weekend, but can't help themselves much, in terms of rpi, even with a sweep.
They'll finish-up the regular season taking on a sub .500 ULM team. That'll hurt too.
I get all of this. But if they run the table, they should be a lock to be a national seed, meaning they would host a regional, and a super regional, should they advance.
I'm also still of the opinion that running the table, while possible, and maybe even probable, is going to be difficult, but even with a single loss, the Cajuns should still get a national seed.
That's really what this is all about..."if" Louisiana loses one more game, should they still get a national seed?
My answer would be "yes", without hesitation.
Louisiana entered last week ranked number seven in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll, and went 3-0 during the week.
Top-ranked California (42-3) lost a game to Oregon over the weekend, while second-ranked Alabama (42-4) dropped two games, falling to Georgia, as well as future Sun Belt Conference member Georgia St.
Third-ranked Florida (41-5), and fourth-ranked Arizona St. (39-5) both had unbeaten weeks, but fifth-ranked Texas (37-7) lost a game to Oklahoma St., and sixth-ranked Oklahoma (38-7) dropped a game to Missouri.
That means that four of the six teams ranked ahead of UL lost this week.
How about the teams ranked right behind the Cajuns in the top ten from last week?
Well, Tennessee (40-9) went unbeaten, Washington (36-11) dropped two-of-three to Oregon St., and Missouri fell in two-of-three to Oklahoma.
Now, I understand you can't penalize these teams much for losing to good teams. Let's take Oklahoma, for example. The Sooners won a series against a top ten team (Missouri), so you can't punish them for an impressive weekend.
I'm just pointing out that nobody ranked ahead of UL, in either of the polls, or in the rpi, has a better record than the Cajuns.
And I'm not necessarily saying that Louisiana is better than any of those teams simply because they have a better record.
Look, I get that the Pac-12 is the premier conference in college softball, and that teams will beat up on each other there.
I've said many times this year that if I had a vote in a poll that my vote would go to California.
All I'm saying is that based on their record, who they've beaten, and their complete body of work, UL should be a national seed if the season ended today, and should still be, if they lose only one remaining game.
The Cajuns have an undefeated non-conference record, with wins over Tulsa, Michigan, Kentucky, Arizona St., and Georgia Tech, who have all been ranked at some point during the season.
They played in the NFCA Leadoff Classic and the Judi Garman Classic, and went undefeated in each.
Louisiana's only two losses have been to Troy, who is 31-16 this year, with wins over ranked teams such as Auburn and Florida St., and FIU, who is over .500 (24-22), with a win over Oregon St.
I mean, what more do you want!?
There's an old saying concerning Major League Baseball that states that every team is guaranteed 50 wins and 50 losses before the season begins. It's the other 62 games that decide the season.
Well, in college softball, when a team has only two losses at this point in the season, that's about as good as you can expect.
My whole point is that even great teams lose games, and to have only two losses at this standpoint is an amazing thing. And to have to be expected to lose only two games in a season to secure a national seed is silly.
Only Louisville (43-2) has the same number of losses as Louisiana. Nobody has fewer losses. Nobody!
As I mentioned though, the season is not over. Far from it.
This weekend, UL has to make an 11-hour bus ride to Bowling Green, Kentucky to take on a pretty decent WKU Hilltopper team. WKU is 27-17 on the year, and the Cajuns are going to have to play well to win the series, and really well to sweep. It's very possible they could lose a game, and maybe two, although that's doubtful.
In case you've taken it for granted, the Sun Belt Conference is a good league this year, and continues to get better, year after year. South Alabama, FIU, and Troy all had rpi's in the top 60 entering last week, and WKU was in the top 100.
If Louisiana were to run the table, including the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, that would be impressive. They could very well lose a game. and if they do, then it shouldn't hurt their chances much.
Now, if they lose a series, or don't win the tournament, then that's another issue. But I'm still of the opinion that they shouldn't have to run the table to secure a national seed.
Remember too, that the top eight teams in the rpi rankings don't necassarily get the top eight national seeds.
Last week, Oregon was ahead of UL in the rpi, and may be again, for all I know, even if they did lose two-of-three to top-ranked California. Oregon now have double-digit loses, so you're not going to convince me that they would deserves a national seed ahead of the Cajuns.
Arizona (31-12) was tenth in the rpi rankings last week, Louisville (43-2) was 11th, Washington (36-11) was 12th, and Texas A&M (31-14) was 13th. Three of these teams have double-digit loses.
I have all the repsect in the world for Arizona. That program, along with UCLA, is the best of all-time...OF ALL-TIME!. It wouldn't surprise in the least if the Wildcats made a run at another national title this year. But if Arizona, or any double-digit loss program gets a national seed over a two or three loss UL team, then that would be a crime.
Sorry, but I'm just not buying that the Cajuns have to run the table to be a national seed. True, they may have to, but they shouldn't.
And don't give me that "mid-major" thing. Houston was a national seed back in 2008, and they had nine losses going into the regionals. If Louisiana would only lose one remaining game, they would still give them six fewer losses than that Cougar team that didn't even win their conference tournament.
Plus, this is a UL program that has a proven post-season track record, appearing in two Women's College World Series', as well as a super regional, in the last decade.
Hey, it's possible the Cajuns could go into the post-season, and not not play well, and go two-and-out in a regional.
That still wouldn't change my opinion, because college softball is a "large sample size" sport, and the large sample size tells me this year that the Cajuns should be a top-eight national seed, with still margain for error.
I'm not trying to make them out to be the best team out there, because they very well may not be. I'm just amazed that they may have to sweat out being a national seed, after what they've accomplished so far.
Right now, they should be a lock. But even with one more loss, and even two, I believe they should still be in the top eight.
Oh, I realize they won't be, especially with two more losses, but they should be.
Again, Louisiana still has some tough work to do, but they've had a great year so far, and should be rewarded for it.
Just a reminder: The views expressed by me don't necessarily reflect those of ESPN 1420 & espn1420.com...but they should!