This had the feel of Nick Saban’s famous “appreciate your interest in the game” rant.
A day before the NCAA softball regional in Tuscaloosa, Minnesota’s head coach had about enough of the questions about her team’s controversial seeding. No. 1 in one of the major polls, the Gophers were not among the top 16 seeds in the NCAA’s bracket.
Sent to Alabama as the second seed in the four-team regional, Jessica Allister was tired of talking about it.
“How long are we going to talk about this?” Allister asked after a little under four minutes of news conference Thursday. “At some point, we have to move on. I can sit here and I can get mad and we can answer all these questions, which we’ve been doing all week, but I’d rather talk about being here.”
With that, welcome to the regional that’ll have the eyes of the college softball world. Alabama, the 2012 national champ who’s been to the last three Women’s College World Series, isn’t the story this time.
Minnesota brings a 54-3 record to the deep south — two of the three losses coming to No. 6-national seeded Washington. The final regular-season coaches poll had the Gophers No. 1 two days after the selection committee deemed them the 17th-best team in the country.
Alabama (42-16) is the No. 16 national seed and will host its 13th straight regional. It gets Albany (27-16) in the 4 p.m. CT Friday opening round in Rhoads Stadium after Minnesota plays Louisiana Tech in the 1:30 p.m. game.
“We’re kind of the underdog,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy. “And I’d rather be that way, to tell you the truth.”
Minnesota, who Alabama would play at 1:30 p.m. Saturday if both win Friday, also used that u-word to describe their mentality after the seeding situation.
The Tide will get a boost from the return of an injured star player. Demi Turner was officially cleared for full participation this week after breaking a bone in her eye in early April at Missouri. The second baseman took infield without a mask in practice, though…