Duke softball snubbed as Super Regional host, earns No. 10 overall seed in NCAA Tournament

Duke head coach Marissa Young looked around at no one in particular on Selection Sunday when ESPN announced Stanford as the No. 8 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Fans booed in the stands. Only the top eight seeds get to host Regionals and Super Regionals.

She then stood with her arms crossed when her team was announced as the No. 10 overall seed. The team clapped for the TV broadcast, but its less-than-thrilled reaction told the story of the night.

The Blue Devils (47-6) get to stay home in Durham for the NCAA Tournament Regionals, which start this week, but they do not get the opportunity to host a Super Regional as expected.

Aside from No. 1 overall seed Texas (47-7) and No. 2 overall seed Oklahoma (49-6), none of the other Top 8 seeds have fewer than 10 losses.

Duke opens play Friday at 2:30 p.m. against Morgan State. South Carolina and Utah are also in the bracket.

If Duke advances out of Durham, it will travel to Columbia, Missouri.

The Blue Devils’ strength of schedule hurt the team’s seeding, according to selection committee chairman Kurt McGuffin.

“They didn’t play as many games in the Top 25 that we’d like to see. They had two games in the Top 25 in the non-conference strength of schedule,” McGuffin said in an interview with ESPN. “Then, 58% of their games were in Quad Three and Four. We’d like to see more with a team like Duke, in the first and second quads.”

Duke’s resume includes wins over Boston University, Liberty, Villanova, Charlotte, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Florida State. The Blue Devils run-ruled Villanova in both outings.

Duke finished the weekend ranked No. 3 in RPI, No. 15 in strength of schedule, and 11-2 against teams in the RPI Top 25.

Additionally, the team entered the season ranked No. 9 in the USA Softball preseason poll before climbing as high as No. 2 in Week 8. It stayed in the Top 5 for 10 straight weeks. It ranked as high as No. 2 in Week 8, while Softball America ranked Duke at No. 1 the same week.

“The bottom line is, we know what a great team that we have. There isn’t another team in the country that we need to be afraid of,” Young told the team and the crowd in attendance. “We just continue to be the underdogs, continue to go out and shock the world and show them what you guys are really made of.”

Last season, the team lost to Stanford at the Super Regional and narrowly missed out on the Women’s College World Series. Duke hopes to make its first appearance in Oklahoma City in the coming weeks.

No. 5 Duke defeated No. 16 Florida State, 6-3, on Saturday to win the program’s second ACC Championship and earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Duke softball completes magical run through ACC tournament with championship win

The team also played two 10-inning games en route to the title game.

Pitchers Jala Wright and Cassidy Curd said the home field advantage definitely helped Duke win the title. And, it made the emotions sweeter.

“We’re in our safe space. We’re in our stadium with our fans, with our community around. Our own family and friends are here,” Wright said on Thursday. “It just gives us extra motivation to play for them and to go out and win the thing.”

“It’s so special. I mean, I look up and I see my dad in the stands. I see my brother, my grandma, my mom,” Curd added on Saturday. “I can’t even explain the feeling. It’s phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal.”

The Blue Devils are one victory away from tying the program’s single-season win record, set last season. It must win three games to advance to the Super Regionals.

With the home field advantage this weekend, and now a chip on their shoulders, the Blue Devils fully believe they’re in control of their postseason.

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