Twenty-four of the nation’s top NAIA programs converge on LaGrange, Ga., and Shuford Fields for the NFCA’s second NAIA Leadoff Classic Mar. 10-11.
Pool play begins Friday at 10 a.m. EST, while bracket play will be played Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. EST.
Tournament passes to all games are available for $15 for adults and $10 for youth. Daily passes are $8 for adults and $6 for youth. A youth group rate is also available.
Thirteen of the 24 teams begin the 2006 season ranked nationally, with third-ranked Oklahoma City leading a list of seven teams in the top 10. The Stars finished the 2005 season with a 47-16 mark. Mobile, who tied with Thomas for third at the NAIA National Tournament after being eliminated by California Baptist, will be playing in the tournament. Mobile begins 2006 fourth, with last year’s No. 1 team, Thomas, coming in fifth.
Point Loma Nazarene finished the season ranked sixth nationally with a 42-10 record and starts 2006 ranked seventh. The team narrowly missed advancing to the double-elimination portion of the national tournament with a 3-2 loss to North Georgia in 10 innings.
Also in the 24-team field is No. 8 University of Science and the Arts of Oklahoma. The Drovers advanced out of pool play at the 2005 national tournament and finished the season with a No. 9 national ranking and a 46-17 record after being knocked out of play by fellow tournament competitor Mobile.
2005 national tournament competitor William Woods, who ended 2005 with a No. 13 national ranking and enters 2006 at No. 9, will venture to LaGrange seeking the Leadoff Classic title along with 10th-ranked Lee University out of Tennessee.
No. 14 Spring Hill College narrowly missed receiving an at-large selection to the national tournament after being knocked out of the Region XIII tournament. William Penn and St. Gregory’s finished 2005 ranked outside the top 25, but moved into the preseason NAIA rankings at No. 16 and No. 17, respectively.
Nineteenth-ranked Ohio Dominican will also travel to LaGrange to participate in the tournament. Ohio Dominican capped a record-setting season with a second-ever trip to the national tournament.
Other nationally-ranked teams competing in the tournament include No. 21 Evangel and 23rd-ranked Southern Oregon.
Bellevue, Brescia, Brevard, Columbia, Faulkner, Oklahoma Christian, Olivet Nazarene, Milligan, Tiffin (Ohio), Trevecca-Nazarene and Virginia-Wise round out the field of 24 teams competing in the tournament.