NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- Old Dominion appeared to have an NCAA Tournament-worthy resume. The selection committee saw otherwise.
The Monarchs were one of the first four teams left out of the field of 64, released on Monday afternoon. It was not necessarily a surprise to ODU head coach Chris Finwood, who saw Sunday's upsets put a significant hurdle in front of the Monarchs' postseason chances.
"It's hard to see your name up in the First Four Out list," the head coach said following the selection show. "It's the second time in five years we've had to go through that and it's excruciating for the guys. Keeping that in perspective, nobody's living or dying today, but the guys put their hearts and soles into this and so that makes it tough."
Old Dominion entered Monday with an RPI ranking of 40, a 41-17 record and a resume that many thought deserved a regional bid. The Monarchs swept a home-and-home series with East Carolina, which grabbed the No. 8 national seed, beat Virginia on the road and went 10-8 against teams who earned spots in the tournament field. They were 11-8 against Quad 1 and Quad 2 opponents, 5-1 against teams that entered Monday in the RPI top 30 and went 22-13 in Conference USA, including the league tournament. That league ended the season as the fifth-best conference in the country, based on RPI rankings.
ODU Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig said he was "discouraged" with Conference USA.
"We are the fifth-best baseball conference in America, the fifth out of 32," Selig said. "Only two teams from the fifth-best conference in America get into the NCAA? It tells me it's time for us to get out of Conference USA and get to the Sun Belt, who had four teams in the NCAA."
Regular season champion Southern Mississippi and conference tournament title winner Louisiana Tech will represent Conference USA in the NCAA Tournament.
As for the Sun Belt, the four squads heading to the big dance are Georgia Southern, who will host one of the 16 regionals, Louisiana, Coastal Carolina and Texas State. In addition, Southern Mississippi will be joining the league on July 1, along with Old Dominion.
It was a disappointing day, but Finwood said that nobody would gain anything from complaining. He'll choose to focus on what his 2022 squad was able to accomplish.
"We became a really really good team," the head coach pointed out. "That's what you're always after, that's what you're always fighting to try to grab a hold of and those guys did it."
The Monarchs post more than 40 wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1985 and 1986 and, as of Monday, rank second in the nation with 128 home runs.
Four other programs from the commonwealth will get their shots at a national championship. Virginia Tech will host a regional as the No. 4 national seed and open against Wright State, Virginia will travel to Greenville to face Coastal Carolina in its first tournament game, VCU will meet Georgia in Chapel Hill while Liberty kicks off with Oklahoma in Gainesville.