The Faulkner University Eagles captured back-to-back regular season conference titles as they claim the top seed in the championship. No. 2 Faulkner ended its regular season with a 25-5 conference record and a 44-10 overall record.
The Lee Flames enter the championship as the fourth ranked team in the NAIA and the chance to claim back-to-back conference championship titles. No. 4 Lee ended its regular season with a 24-5 conference record, falling just a half-game back of Faulkner, and a 43-10 overall record.
The pool play finds the Flames facing Brewton-Parker College on Tuesday at 3:30. After a day off on Wednesday, Lee returns to action and will test the University of Mobile at 3:30. The final game of pool play takes place on Friday at 7 p.m. with William Carey being the opponent.
“I really like the venue in Columbus and the competitive level of our conference tournament,” said coach Mark Brew, whose Flames will host the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament the following week. “It really helps prepare us for what lies ahead in post season. All teams are 0-0 (entering tournament play) and everyone gets a fresh start.”
“The bracket is a unique format that we have never played before,” added Brew. “The pool play round robin will set up some interesting match-ups, and with everyone knowing who they are playing from Tuesday through Friday allows us to try and set up match ups within the pitching staff. However, only one sure way exists to move into championship Saturday and that is to win all three games. If you win two then it becomes a little more complex as to who moves to the finals with head-to-head usually being the deciding factor.
“Inside our pool we will have three tough match-ups,” Brew stressed. We will face three really tough opponents and an easy game does not exist. Our pitching must continue to lead the way and our defense needs to continue to play well. We need to continue to do a better job executing situations on the offensive side to be able to play on Saturday. It will be a great week of baseball and we would like to repeat as conference tournament champions.”
Rounding out the top three is William Carey University. The Crusaders concluded conference play with a 19-11 record and a 33-20 overall record. The Crusaders edged out the Blazers of Belhaven University by one game as the two faced off in their final regular season series, WCU taking two of three games.
Other teams to qualify for the championship include No. 21 Belhaven University, fourth seed and 18-12 in SSAC, Southern Polytechnic State University, fifth seed and 17-13 in SSAC, the University of Mobile, sixth seed and 17-13 in SSAC, Brewton-Parker College, seventh seed and 14-12 in SSAC, and Auburn University at Montgomery, eight seed and 15-15 in SSAC.