By Chad Waller, Director of Athletics Communications and Media
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Schedule) (Bracket Reveal Video) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the 40-team field and pairings for the 2018 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round. The sixth annual event will take place from May 14 - 16 at nine different locations. The format is a double-elimination, four-team tournament. For more information on the host sites, click here.
The 40-team field is comprised of 30 automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large berths. The 19 conferences receive one berth per six teams and two berths per ten teams. At-large teams were determined using the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released earlier today, which can be accessed here.
The champions from each of the 10 opening round tournaments advance to the 38th annual NAIA Softball World Series in Clermont, Fla., from May 25 – 31. These programs will participate in a double-elimination national championship at the Legends Way Ball Fields. Last year, Oklahoma City won its NAIA-record 10th championship – and second in-a-row – after a 4-1 victory over Corban (Ore.) on June 1.
The World Series bracket will be announced late in the day on May 16 on NAIA.org. Advanced World Series tickets may be purchased by clicking here.
Opening Round Notes
- Indiana Wesleyan leads all qualifiers with the most season wins at 54-9. Science & Arts (Okla.) (50) and Vanguard (Calif.) (50) are the other teams with 50-plus wins.
- Overall, there are 23 repeat qualifiers from the 2017 NAIA National Championship Opening Round.
- Eleven teams are making their first-ever trip to the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round: Baker (Kan.), Faulkner (Ala.), Hope International (Calif.), Midland (Neb.), Midway (Ky.), Northwestern (Iowa), University of Northwestern Ohio, Tabor (Kan.), Talladega (Ala.), Thomas (Ga.) and Truett-McConnell (Ga.).
- The Cascade Collegiate Conference boasts the most members in the opening round with four: Corban (Ore.), Eastern Oregon, Oregon Tech and Southern Oregon. The Heart of America Athletic Conference and Southern States Athletic Conference are next with three programs apiece.
- Oklahoma City has claimed four opening round titles, which is tied with former member Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) for the most of any program.
- With 15 victories, Oklahoma City leads a pack of five programs with 10-or-more Opening Round wins. The others are Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (11), Oregon Tech (10), Saint Xavier (Ill.) (10) and William Carey (Miss.) (10).
- The 2018 opening round marks the sixth year of this format. Overall, there are two teams that have owned the distinction of participating in all opening rounds since the event began in 2013: Lindsey Wilson and Oklahoma City. Both clubs also are the only in NAIA history to host all six events.
- Since the Opening Round format began in 2013, the top seed has been the Opening Round champion in 31-of-50 events. There have been three No. 4 seeds to win the event in the five-year history: Webber International (Fla.) won the 2016 Reinhardt Bracket (Ga.) with a record of 3-0; Ottawa (Kan.) won the 2017 Morningside Bracket (Iowa) with a 2-0 record and Indiana Wesleyan won the 2017 Bowling Green Bracket (Ky.) with a 3-0 record.
For more information on the 2018 NAIA Softball National Championship and World Series, click here.
2018 Softball National Championship Opening Round Qualifiers
|School Name||Qualification||Record^||OR Appearances*||Consecutive*||OR Record||Titles|
|Baker (Kan.)||At-Large No. 10||40-14||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Brenau (Ga.)||Appalachian Athletic Tournament Runner-Up||28-20||3rd||3rd||2-3||0|
|Campbellsville (Ky.)||Mid-South Tournament Champion||45-8||4th||4th||6-5||1|
|Central Methodist (Mo.)||Heart of America Athletic Tournament Runner-Up||41-10||5th||1st||8-6||1|
|Columbia (Mo.)||American Midwest Tournament Champion||30-14||4th||2nd||4-4||1|
|Corban (Ore.)||At-Large No. 6||35-13||4th||2nd||7-4||1|
|Dickinson State (N.D.)||North Star Athletic Tournament Champion||30-19||5th||1st||4-7||1|
|Eastern Oregon||Cascade Collegiate Tournament Runner-Up||26-22||2nd||1st||0-2||0|
|Faulkner (Ala.)||At-Large No. 7||44-13||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)||American Midwest Regular-Season Champion||31-13||3rd||2nd||1-4||0|
|Georgia Gwinnett||Association of Independent Institutions Tournament Champion||49-3||4th||4th||6-6||0|
|Grand View (Iowa)||Heart of America Athletic Regular-Season No. 1 Seed and Tournament Champion||46-8||5th||4th||1-8||0|
|Hope International (Calif.)||Golden State Athletic Tournament Champion||46-9||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Houston-Victoria (Texas)||Red River Athletic Tournament Champion||30-16||4th||1st||5-6||0|
|Indiana Wesleyan||Crossroads Tournament Champion||54-9||4th||4th||5-4||1|
|Jamestown (N.D.)||At-Large No. 4||43-8||2nd||2nd||0-2||0|
|Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||At-Large No. 5||39-14||6th||6th||11-6||2|
|Madonna (Mich.)||Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Regular-Season Champion||27-15||3rd||2nd||5-4||0|
|Marian (Ind.)||Crossroads Regular-Season Champion||47-5||5th||4th||8-5||2|
|Midland (Neb.)||Great Plains Athletic Regular-Season Champion||34-15||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Midway (Ky.)||River States Tournament Runner-Up||23-20||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Mobile (Ala.)||At-Large No. 2||43-13||3rd||2nd||6-3||1|
|Northwestern (Iowa)||Great Plains Athletic Tournament Champion||35-11||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Northwestern Ohio, University of||Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Tournament Champion||30-12||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Oklahoma City||Sooner Athletic Tournament Champion||48-7||6th||6th||15-3||4|
|Oklahoma Wesleyan||Kansas Collegiate Athletic Regular-Season No. 2 Seed||29-19||2nd||1st||0-2||0|
|Oregon Tech||At-Large No. 8||36-13||5th||5th||10-5||1|
|Rio Grande (Ohio)||River States Regular-Season and Tournament Champion||35-11||4th||4th||4-6||0|
|Saint Xavier (Ill.)||Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Tournament Runner-Up||27-15||5th||1st||10-6||2|
|Science & Arts (Okla.)||At-Large No. 1||50-5||3rd||2nd||3-4||0|
|Simpson (Calif.)||Cal Pacific Tournament Champion||34-20||4th||3rd||9-4||2|
|Southeastern (Fla.)||At-Large No. 9||40-16||4th||4th||6-4||1|
|Southern Oregon||Cascade Collegiate Regular-Season and Tournament Champion||44-12||3rd||3rd||5-3||1|
|St. Francis (Ill.)||Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Regular-Season and Tournament Champion||38-7||3rd||2nd||4-4||0|
|Tabor (Kan.)||Kansas Collegiate Athletic Regular-Season and Tournament Champion||29-19||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Talladega (Ala.)||Association of Independent Institutions Tournament Runner-Up||18-20||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Thomas (Ga.)||The Sun Tournament Champion||38-14||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Truett-McConnell (Ga.)||Appalachian Athletic Regular-Season and Tournament Champion||40-15||1st||1st||0-0||0|
|Vanguard (Calif.)||At-Large No. 3||50-10||2nd||2nd||0-2||0|
|William Carey (Miss.)||Southern States Athletic Tournament Champion||37-14||5th||5th||10-4||2|
^ as submitted by school in DakStats
* Opening Round appearances, including 2018 event