KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Opening Round Brackets – HTML) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the seeds and brackets for the 2015 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round. Forty qualifiers will play out 10 double-elimination tournaments with four teams at each location. The event will take place from May 11–13.
On May 11, the No. 2 seed faces the No. 3 seed in each tournament, while the Nos. 1 and 4 seeds compete later in the day. The second day (May 12) sees three games and the third and final day (May 13) has the championship game and “if necessary” contest.
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 today. Every attempt is made to not pair Conference/Association of Independent Institutions/Unaffiliated Group teams, but this may be unavoidable.
The opening round hosts include: Auburn University-Montgomery (Ala.), Central Methodist (Mo.), Concordia (Calif.), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), LSU Alexandria (La.), Oklahoma City, Oregon Tech, St. Gregory's (Okla.), USC Beaufort (S.C.) and William Carey (Miss.). Three of these institutions, Central Methodist, LSU Alexandria and Oregon Tech, are playing as hosts for the first time since the format began in 2013.
The Southern States Athletic Conference leads all conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups with four qualifiers in the National Championship field. The Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, Sooner Athletic Conference and the Unaffiliated Group (Cascade/Frontier) each landed a trio of programs.
Defending national champion Auburn Montgomery is the only team to appear in multiple Opening Rounds and hold an undefeated record (5-0). Leading the pack with the most Opening Round wins, Belhaven (Miss.), Oklahoma City, Reinhardt and former member Spring Hill (Ala.) have all won six games each.
Auburn Montgomery is joined in the No. 1 seed pack by Campbellsville (Ky.), Central Methodist, Concordia, Lindsey Wilson, LSU Alexandria, Mobile (Ala.), Oklahoma City, Saint Xavier (Ill.), and Science & Arts (Okla.).
LSU Alexandria currently owns the NAIA active winning streak with 38-straight victories. The last loss came on March 1 against current qualifier Central Methodist. Lindsey Wilson is next with a 29-game winning streak, followed by Science & Arts (12) and Indiana Wesleyan (10).
The 40-team field is comprised of 31 automatic qualifiers, four Opening Round host berths and five at-large berths. The 19 conferences, including the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.), received one berth per six teams and two berths per ten teams. In addition, two Unaffiliated groups will receive two berths each.
The 10 Opening Round champions will punch their ticket for the 35th annual NAIA Softball World Series in Sioux City, Iowa, on the Morningside College campus from May 22 - 28. Those programs will participate in a double-elimination format on one championship field. Last year, Auburn Montgomery defeated William Carey, 10-6, to record its first-ever softball championship.
For more information on the 2015 NAIA Softball National Championship, click here.
NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round Facts
• This opening round championship format occurs for the third time in the history of the sport, which spans back to 1981. From 2005-12, the championship format included pool play with the champions advancing to double-elimination action.
• Opening Round All-Time Records (by seeds since 2013)
o No. 1 seeds: 54-16
o No. 2 seeds: 41-34
o No. 3 seeds: 25-39
o No. 4 seeds: 8-39
• Since the opening round format began, hosts have posted a 49-22 record, including a 26-8 mark in 2014.
• In the previous two years, the top seed has been the Opening Round champion in 15-of-20 events. The No. 2 seed has won four Opening Rounds, while No. 3 College of Idaho is the only No. 3 seed to win the event (2014). There has not been a No. 4 seed to win the Opening Round.
• The 10 Opening Round champions will meet up at the NAIA Softball World Series in Sioux City, Iowa for a seven day, double-elimination event starting on May 22. There are four games during each of the first three days (Sunday is an off day); three games on May 26; two games on May 27; World Series championship final on May 28 (if necessary game to follow).
• The 10-team World Series bracket will be officially announced May 13 after the Opening Rounds have been completed (late in the day).
• Currently, 197 NAIA schools sponsor a varsity softball program among a membership of nearly 260 colleges, universities and conferences.
-- Courtesy of Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications and Sports Information