By Chad Waller, Director of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has released the list of 10 host sites for the 2nd annual NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round, the national office announced Wednesday. The event will be played May 12 – 14 and features 10 four-team double elimination tournaments. The 40 qualifiers and pairings for the National Championship Opening Round will be announced May 6.
The hosts include: Auburn University at Montgomery (Ala.), Columbia College (Mo.), Concordia University (Calif.), Davenport University (Mich.), College of Idaho, Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.), Oklahoma City University, Reinhardt University (Ga.), St. Gregory's University (Okla.) and William Carey University (Miss.). Each of these host schools are guaranteed at least an at-large host berth in the National Championship Opening Round.
Three hosts this year served as host institutions for the 2013 event, Concordia, Lindsey Wilson and Oklahoma City. Both Concordia and Oklahoma City won their respective 2013 Opening Rounds to advance to the national championship final site, while Lindsey Wilson fell in the Opening Round championship contest.
Overall last year, four of 10 opening round hosts won their respective opening round tournaments: Concordia, former members Lee (Tenn.) and Lubbock Christian (Texas), and Oklahoma City. The 2013 opening round hosts recorded a 23-14 combined record, but went just 5-8 on the third and final day.
Overall, the No. 1 seeds went a combined 30-7 in the 2013 Opening Round. Two returning teams were a perfect 3-0 last year, Auburn Montgomery and Concordia.
The Opening Round site selection process takes into account: geography, facilities, student-athlete experience and host qualification. The application deadline for bids was April 1.
The champions of each of the 10 Opening Round tournaments advance to the 34th annual NAIA Softball World Series in Columbus, Ga., from May 23 – 29. These programs will participate in a double-elimination national championship format on one championship field – which was home to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
2014 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round Host Sites
|Auburn University at Montgomery||AUM Softball Complex||Montgomery, Ala.||Auburn Montgomery Bracket|
|Columbia College||Antimi Softball Complex||Columbia, Mo.||Columbia Bracket|
|Concordia University^||Eagles Field||Irvine, Calif.||Concordia Bracket|
|Davenport University||Farmers Athletic Complex||Grand Rapids, Mich.||Davenport Bracket|
|Idaho, College of||Symms Field||Caldwell, Idaho||College of Idaho|
|Lindsey Wilson College^||Lindsey Wilson Sports Park||Columbia, Ky.||Lindsey Wilson Bracket|
|Oklahoma City University^||Ann Lacy Stadium||Oklahoma City, Okla.||Oklahoma City Bracket|
|Reinhardt University||Ken White Field||Waleska, Ga.||Reinhardt Bracket|
|St. Gregory's University||Firelake Ball Fields||Shawnee, Okla.||St. Gregory's Bracket|
|William Carey University||Joseph & Nancy Fail Field||Hattiesburg, Miss.||William Carey Bracket|
^ Opening Round Championship hosts in 2013
NAIA Softball National Championship Facts
• For the first time in the history of the sport, the final site championship event in Columbus, Ga., (May 23-29) will be officially called the 2014 NAIA Softball World Series. The previous title was the Softball National Championship final site.
• This championship format occurs for the second time in the history of the sport, which spans back to 1981. From 2005-12, the championship format included pool play with the champions advancing to double-elimination action.
• The 10 Opening Round champions will meet up at the NAIA Softball World Series in Columbus, Ga., for a seven day, double-elimination event starting on May 23. There are four games during the first three days (Sunday is off day); three games on May 27; two games on May 28; World Series championship final on May 29 (if necessary game to follow).
• The 10-team final site bracket will be officially announced May 14 (late in the day).
• The 40-team field will be comprised of 32 automatic qualifiers and eight at-large berths. The 18 conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) will receive one berth per six teams and two berths per ten teams. In addition, two Unaffiliated groups will receive one berth each.
• Currently, 200 NAIA schools sponsor a varsity softball program among a membership of 260 colleges, universities and conferences.