By Chad Waller, Director of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Opening Round Brackets - HTML) (Watch Selection Show) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially released the seeds and brackets for the 2014 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round. Each of the 10 locations will feature a four-team double-elimination tournament. There are 40 qualifiers that will compete from May 12 - 14.
On May 12, the No. 1 seed faces the No. 4 seed in each tournament, while the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds compete later in the day. The second day (May 13) sees three games and the third and final day (May 14) has the championship game and “if necessary” contest.
Pairings for the Opening Round are based upon the following prioritized criteria: geographical location of teams, financial consideration and the final rating from the NAIA Softball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released earlier today. Every attempt is made to not pair Conference/Association of Independent Institutions/Unaffiliated Group teams, but this may be unavoidable.
The 10 Opening Round hosts announced on April 16 are: 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.).
The Southern States Athletic Conference leads all conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups with four qualifiers in the National Championship field. The Association of Independent Institutions, Cascade Collegiate Conference and Sooner Athletic Conference each landed a trio of programs.
The Opening Round field is comprised of 32 automatic qualifiers and eight at-large berths. Automatic qualification is given to conference regular-season champions, regular-season runners-up, tournament champions or tournament runners-up depending on the league. Conferences with 10 or more members earned two automatic qualifiers and conferences with less than 10 landed one auto berth. At-large teams were determined using the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released earlier today.
The 10 Opening Round champions will punch their ticket for the 34th annual NAIA Softball World Series in Columbus, Ga., from May 23 - 29.
For more information on the 2014 NAIA Softball National Championship, click here.