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 Wednesday. 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 23 are: Belhaven University; Concordia University (Calif.); Concordia University (Ore.); Lee University; Lindsey Wilson College; Lubbock Christian University; Oklahoma City University; Park University; Rogers State University; and the University of South Carolina at Beaufort.
“We are excited about hosting the opening round,” said Lee coach Emily Russell. “We drew three quality teams that have had great seasons. We will have some outstanding games for fans to come watch all week.
“There are four good offensive teams that have good pitching staffs. We will have our work cut out for us in seeking a berth to the World Series. The girls are very focused on their goals and it is nice to be able to prepare without the distractions of class.”
Lee will open tourney play on Monday in the double elimination tourney at 7 p.m. against Bethel University. Thirty-one teams earned automatic berths to the Opening Round field by placing first or second at their respective conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournaments or by winning a regular-season championship. An additional five at-large host berth selections and four at-large berths complete the list of qualifiers. The at-large berths were determined by the final Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.
Each of the Opening Round winners will advance to the NAIA Softball National Championship final site in Columbus, Ga., May 24–30. The format in Columbus is a double-elimination, 10-team event on a single championship field.
The NAIA national championships will be broadcast all 19 games of the national championship final site in Columbus, Ga. Single day packages can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-Championship pass is available for $29.95. Visit NAIA.org for more information.