After missing out on the NCAA tournament last year, head coach Shanon Hays hopes his team isn’t on the bubble.
A game over .500 in Big 12 play to solidify fourth place in the conference along with 35 wins on the season seems like a pretty decent resume Texas Tech softball has put together this season.
But it still might not be enough to secure a postseason bid.
“In the past, at least since I’ve been here, five or six teams have always gotten in until last year when we went down in the number of teams,” he said.
As a whole, the Big 12 has been one of the strongest conferences in NCAA Division I softball.
Since the inception of the Big 12, little more than half of its teams have been selected for the tournament. However, last year was one of just six occurrences in the 18-year history of the conference that less than half received postseason bids.
That season, Kansas finished fourth in the Big 12 with a 9-8 conference record and was 34-16 overall with an RPI of 50.
Currently, the Red Raiders are No. 52 nationally in RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) and has gone 15-8 against teams ranked in the top-100.
“What gives you confidence that we can play well is how we’ve played over the last three to four weeks,” Hays said. “I thought we went and competed well at Texas. I wish we would have won the series but we got out of there with a win.”
The Red Raiders are 7-2 in their last nine games against Oklahoma State, Kansas and Iowa State. Texas Tech had not previously won three-consecutive Big 12 series since 1998 when the Red Raiders swept two-game series with Iowa State, Baylor and Texas A&M.
Oklahoma and Baylor are also 7-2 over their last nine games while Texas is at 6-3. Four of those wins came at home for Tech while three came from a series sweep on the road at Kansas.
Since the Red Raiders broke out the brooms in their last road series, they have some added confidence taking on the defending national champion Oklahoma on the road. Just playing in Norman should give Tech’s RPI a boost, but a win or two would most likely secure a postseason bid.
“It was really nice to go in and show a team that has a better RPI than us, ‘Hey we’re here and we’re going to get ya,’” freshman Sarah Weber said. “We’re going to go and show OU that we’re going to do the same to them.”
The No. 15/12 Sooners have the tenth-best RPI in the country and have only lost twice at home (2-7 to Nebraska on March 1 and 0-9 to Texas on April 18). Kelsey Stevens (28-7), Oklahoma’s ace, has pitched 157.2 more innings than any other Sooner and has an ERA of 2.05.
Last weekend against Iowa State, the Red Raiders scored 32 runs, the most in a three-game Big 12 series in school history.
“Gretchen’s been doing amazing in the circle and at the plate,” freshman Sydni Emanuel said. “Everybody’s been having great at bats. As long as our defense backs up our pitchers, I think we’ll be able to pull off two wins this weekend.”
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How the RPI is figured
(Ratings Percentage Index)
25% winning percentage
50% opponents’ winning percentage
25% opponents’ opponents winning percentage
Not mentioned are the bonus and penalty calculations that the NCAA doesn’t release
Tech’s wins over teams in the RPI top-100
6-5 on the road at No. 28 Texas
6-5 at a neutral site over No. 32 DePaul
7-5, 9-7, 1-0 on the road at No. 39 Kansas
13-6 on the road over No. 53 Cal St. Fullerton
6-5, 11-3 at home vs. No. 58 Oklahoma State
4-3 at a neutral site over No. 62 Illinois 4-3
7-2 at a neutral site over No. 86 UNLV
5-1, 5-4 at home vs. No. 92 North Texas
3-2, 7-2, 5-3 at home vs. No. 100 Texas State
Who: Texas Tech at No. 15/12 Oklahoma
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday
Where: Marita Hynes Field, Norman
Records: Tech 35-16 overall, 8-7 in Big 12; OU 39-10 overall, 11-2 in Big 12