(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
Following Sunday’s 31-9 blowout lose at the hands of the USC Trojans, head coach Tracy Smith didn’t feel there was any reason to discuss the game.
Instead, he was more concerned about the future: tomorrow’s regional announcement and where his team would be headed to start their journey toward Omaha. He felt as though the previous six weeks and Arizona State’s six consecutive series wins did all the necessary talking regarding the state of his team.
“We take a snapshot of the season, that was kind of a crazy day today,” Smith said. “You look at the totality of the season, I’m very proud of where we are at this point to extend our season and move on into postseason play.”
With the loss today, the Sun Devils finish 34-21 overall and 16-14 in the Pac-12, a mark tied with Arizona and Oregon State for third-best in the conference. Despite the speculation surrounding Tempe as a potential regional host, Arizona State, as well as the entire west coast, was left out by the selection committee.
“I think [the selection] even lessens the blow from today anyway because I think regardless of what happened today we were not going to get a host seat,” Smith said. “More of the reason not even to worry about today, it’s irrelevant, we’re 0-0.”
The fact that the postseason is now a foregone conclusion for the Sun Devils does leave Smith, to some degree, amazed. Given the state of the team coming into the season, he had his head set on the reality of a rebuilding year.
That was before his team took the field.
As much as this team could be viewed as sporadic or inconsistent, Smith thinks his team can be summed up using a much different adjective – resilient.
“We knew this was going to be a transition year,” Smith said. “You listen to the names, or I guess the years in school, of the guys that are running out there and playing, you couple that with the fact that we lose our ace on the first weekend, you couple that with the fact that we lose our most dominant pitcher, Andrew Shaps, before the season even starts, doesn’t throw one inning on the mound, you couple that with the fact that Ryan Hingst is down for the better part of the year, couple that with the fact that we don’t have Tucker Baca one of our more experienced lefties, to be sitting in the position we’re in right now, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to sit here and be upset.
“I think that group of guys right there, up until this point, has been maximizing, collectively, not given today, but collectively on the season. That is one of the most overachieving, highest performing, team-oriented teams I’ve ever been apart of.”
Despite the fact that his team has shatter his expectations to this point, Smith hopes it doesn’t stop with the regular season. After the selection is made, Smith and his staff are going to start to formulate a plan of attack for the regional tilt in a effort to extend what some might describe as a Cinderella season.
“I’m looking at all options at this point,” Smith said. “We want to keep playing, we’re going to go and analyze once we figure out who we’re playing, where we’re playing, all that stuff, we’re going to analyze the data, look at kind of what they [the future opponent] do against certain pitchers or whatever and try to figure out a way to put together the best options to give us a chance to win the regional.”
The selections will be made Monday morning at 9 a.m. local time on ESPNU.