Story by Chad Waller, Director of Communications & Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Bracket) (Press Book) (Live Video) The 34th Annual NAIA Softball World Series is set to begin on Friday with a 10-team, double-elimination championship-style bracket. The Columbus Sports Council serves as host for the second-straight year with all 19 games played at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus, Ga. The facility was home to the 1998 Summer Olympic Games.
No. 7 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (48-9) and No. 10 College of Idaho (33-16) kick-off the World Series at 10 a.m. EDT on Friday. That contest is part of four games on Friday, with four more on Saturday and four on Monday, May 26. On May 27, three tilts are on the schedule, with two more games on May 28 and the championship game on May 29. For ticket information, click here.
No. 1 seed LSU Alexandria (La.) (35-3) enters the World Series as the only newcomer of the 10 qualifiers. The Generals, who punched its ticket to Columbus after winning the Columbia (Mo.) Bracket Opening Round Championship on May 14, holds the longest active win-streak at 14 games. LSU Alexandria will face the winner of No. 8 Oklahoma City (52-11) and No. 9 Simpson (Calif.) (39-7) on Saturday at 7 p.m. – the Stars and Red Hawks battle it out in Game 2 on Friday at 1 p.m.
The third game Friday sees No. 4 St. Gregory’s (Okla.) (51-10) square off with No. 5 Reinhardt (Ga.) (44-8) at 4 p.m. After the Parade of Champions at 7 p.m. at the Complex, No. 3 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) (49-3-1) and No. 6 William Carey (Miss.) (47-10) wrap up the first day at 7:30 p.m.
No. 2 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) is the other team that has a bye and begins play on Saturday. The Warhawks await the winner of the Lindsey Wilson/College of Idaho match. Members of the Southern States Athletic Conference, Auburn Montgomery is the most local school, located roughly 80 miles from Columbus.
Three programs are back after a trip to the 2013 Softball World Series: Auburn Montgomery, Reinhardt and Oklahoma City. Five other teams appeared most recently either back in 2012 or 2011. College of Idaho is snapping the longest drought for any team who previously made a trip – the Coyotes last played in the 2009 event.
Oklahoma City holds the World Series record for most appearances (29), consecutive appearances (23), wins (111) and titles (8). Oklahoma City is the only 2014 World Series qualifier to win a previous championship.
Behind the 29 trips from Oklahoma City, Olivet Nazarene is next with nine appearances. Reinhardt is making its fourth-straight trip to the World Series, second behind the 23-straight by Oklahoma City.
Eight conferences are represented in the 2014 World Series, led by two programs each from the Sooner Athletic Conference – Oklahoma City and St. Gregory’s (Okla.) – and the Southern States Athletic Conference – Auburn Montgomery and William Carey.
NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video-streaming company of 17 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting all 18 games of the 2014 NAIA Softball World Series. Single day packages can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-World Series pass is available for $29.95. For more information, including how to test your computer and internet connection, click here.
For more information on the 2014 NAIA Softball World Series, click here.
Taking a Closer Look at the 2014 NAIA Softball World Series
● The 10 World Series teams qualified by winning their respective National Championship Opening Rounds, played out May 12-14 at 10 different host cities. The Opening Rounds consisted of four teams playing in double-elimination format.
● With 52 wins, Oklahoma City boasts the most wins on the season of all qualifiers. One other team, St. Gregory’s, is over the 50-win threshold with a 51-10 mark. Conversely, College of Idaho (33-16) has the fewest amount of wins.
● LSU Alexandria boasts the longest win streak at 14 games of the 10 qualifiers. Reinhardt (Ga.) and Oklahoma City follow with 11 and 10-straight wins, respectively.
● Seven of the Top 10 teams ranked in the Final NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll (May 6) are playing in the World Series. Outside of the Top 10 are No. 16 Oklahoma City, No. 17 Simpson (Calif.) and (RV) College of Idaho.
● This is the 34th annual World Series -- last year’s national champion Concordia University (Calif.) did not advance. The Eagles held the No. 1 ranking in the Coaches’ Poll in all nine editions this year.
● Currently, 200 schools sponsor NAIA softball -- there are 19 conferences and two Unaffiliated Groups in NAIA Softball.
● For social media, use hashtag #NAIASBWorldSeries for any twitter discussion.
Celebrating 34 Years of NAIA Softball World Series
● In 34 years, the NAIA Softball World Series has traveled to 13 different cities in nine different states. Columbus, Ga., is the host city for the second-straight year.
● The title of NAIA Softball World Series is a name change from the old title of NAIA Softball National Championship final site. The move was made to increase NAIA branding.
● There have been 194 schools that have qualified since the inaugural event in 1981. Top seed LSU Alexandria (La.) is the only newcomer this year.
● From 2008-12, the National Championship games have been one-run contests, including a nine-inning affair last year in 2012. The 2013 finale saw Concordia (Calif.) defeat Spring Hill (Ala.), 8-3. The five-run victory was the largest since a 7-2 win by Oklahoma City in 2007.
● There has been parity in recent World Series action, as a new champion has been crowned in each of the past eight events. 2014 will see its ninth different title winner in the last nine seasons as defending national champion Concordia did not qualify.
● The National Championship game been forced into extra innings on five occasions, including the 2012 national tilt between former member Shorter (Ga.) and Oklahoma City.
● Eight title games have been won via shutout, let by Oklahoma City’s 12-0 blanking of Athens State (Ala.) in 1997. That mark is also the largest margin of victory. The last championship game shutout was in 2011 when Oregon Tech held off California Baptist, 1-0.