KANSAS CITY, Mo.– (PairingsPairings) (Video Selection ShowVideo Selection Show) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the 40-team field and pairings for the 2016 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round. The event will take place from May 16 - 18 at 10 different locations. The format is a double-elimination, four-team tournament. For more information on the 10 host sites, click herehere.

The 40-team field is comprised of 31 automatic qualifiers and nine at-large berths. The 17 conferences, including the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.), will receive one berth per six teams and two berths per ten teams. In addition, two Unaffiliated Groups will receive two berths each.

Overall, there are 21 repeat qualifiers from the 2015 National Championship Opening Round.

Eleven programs punched their first-ever ticket to the opening round: Arizona Christian, Ashford (Iowa), Brenau (Ga.), Eastern Oregon, Great Falls (Mont.), Lourdes (Ohio), Martin Methodist (Tenn.), Milligan (Tenn.), Oklahoma Wesleyan, Southern Oregon and Webber International (Fla.).

The 2016 opening round marks the fourth year of this format. Overall, there are 10 teams that have owned the distinction of participating in all opening rounds since the event began in 2013: Auburn Montgomery (Ala.), Central Methodist (Mo.), Davenport (Mich.), Dickinson State (N.D.), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), LSU Alexandria (La.), Oklahoma City, Reinhardt (Ga.), Saint Xavier (Ill.) and St. Gregory’s (Okla.).

Two-time defending national champion Auburn Montgomery is the only program in opening round history to win all three previous championships. The Warhawks will host for the third-straight year from the AUM Softball Complex. Auburn Montgomery is also one of two teams (William Carey (Miss.)) to be undefeated (8-0) among teams appearing in multiple Opening Rounds – William Carey is 7-0.

Oklahoma City holds the most wins on the season (58), as well as the most all-time opening round victories (nine). Auburn Montgomery and Lindsey Wilson are next with eight opening round wins.

Since the opening round format began in 2013, the top seed has been the champion in 21-of-30 events. The No. 2 seed has won seven opening rounds, while No. 3 College of Idaho (in 2014) and No. 3 Dickinson State (in 2015) are the only No. 3 seeds to win their events. There has not been a No. 4 seed to win the opening round.

Opening round hosts have recorded an all-time combined record of 76-31.

The Cascade Collegiate Conference and the Southern States Athletic Conference lead all conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups with four opening round qualifiers apiece. The Crossroads League landed a trio of programs.

Three national champions will be participating in the 2016 opening round: Auburn Montgomery (2014 & 2015), Oregon Tech (2011) and Oklahoma City (8 total). Auburn Montgomery is attempting to become the second program in the 36-year history of the World Series to three-peat, which would join Oklahoma City (1994-97; 2000-02), who accomplished the feat on two occasions.

The champions from each of the 10 opening round tournaments will advance to the 36th annual NAIA Softball World Series in Sioux City, Iowa from May 27 – June 2. These programs will participate in a double-elimination national championship at the Elizabeth & Irving Jensen Softball Complex. Last year, Auburn Montgomery defeated Lindsey Wilson, 10-0, in 6 innings in the “if necessary” game May 28, to garner its second-consecutive softball championship. The World Series bracket will be announced late in the day on May 18.

For more information on the 2016 NAIA Softball National Championship, click herehere.

-- Courtesy of Chad Waller (NAIA Director of Communications Sports Information)


2016 Softball National Championship Opening Round Qualifiers

School Qualification Overall Record^ OR Apps* Consecutive OR Record OR Titles
Arizona Christian Golden State Athletic Tournament Champion 37-14-1 1st -- 0-0 --
Ashford (Iowa) Unaffiliated Group (GCAC/A.I.I.) Tournament Champion 30-22 1st -- 0-0 --
Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) Southern States Athletic Tournament Champion 48-6 4th 4th 8-0 3
Brenau (Ga.) At-Large No. 8 29-22 1st -- 0-0 --
Campbellsville (Ky.) Mid-South Tournament Champion 48-8 2nd 2nd 4-1 1
Central Methodist (Mo.) Heart of America Athletic Regular-Season Champion 41-16 4th 4th 6-4 1
Davenport (Mich.) Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Regular-Season Champion 39-10 4th 4th 5-6 --
Dickinson State (N.D.) North Star Athletic Tournament Champion 45-10 4th 4th 3-5 1
Doane (Neb.) Great Plains Athletic Tournament Runner-Up 31-15 2nd 2nd 1-2 --
Eastern Oregon Cascade Collegiate Tournament Champion 29-21 1st -- 0-0 --
Friends (Kan.) Kansas Collegiate Athletic Regular-Season Champion 35-12 3rd 2nd 1-4 --
Georgia Gwinnett Unaffiliated Group (GCAC/A.I.I.) Tournament Runner-Up 41-17 2nd 2nd 1-2 --
Grand View (Iowa) Heart of America Athletic Tournament Champion 43-9 3rd 2nd 0-4 --
Great Falls (Mont.) Cascade Collegiate Tournament Runner-Up 25-18 1st -- 0-0 --
Houston-Victoria (Texas) At-Large No. 6 36-13 3rd -- 3-4 --
Huntington (Ind.) Crossroads League Tournament Runner-Up 36-17 2nd -- 0-2 --
IU Southeast (Ind.) Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Tournament Runner-Up 33-17 3rd -- 1-4 --
Indiana Wesleyan At-Large No. 9 41-16 2nd 2nd 0-2 --
Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) At-Large No. 2 44-12 4th 4th 8-2 2
LSU Alexandria (La.) Red River Athletic Tournament Champion 46-10 4th 4th 6-2 2
Lourdes (Ohio) Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Tournament Runner-Up 18-28 1st -- 0-0 --
Marian (Ind.) Crossroads League Regular-Season Champion 44-9 3rd 2nd 2-4 --
Martin Methodist (Tenn.) At-Large No. 4 45-14 1st -- 0-0 --
Milligan (Tenn.) Appalachian Athletic Tournament Runner-Up 28-18 1st -- 0-0 --
Morningside (Iowa) Great Plains Athletic Regular-Season Champion 44-8 3rd -- 0-4 --
Oklahoma City At-Large No. 1 58-2 4th 4th 9-3 2
Oklahoma Wesleyan Unaffiliated Group (KCAC/A.I.I.) Tournament Champion 36-17 1st -- 0-0 --
Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Tournament Champion 35-15-1 3rd -- 5-2 1
Oregon Tech At-Large No. 7 27-20 3rd 3rd 5-2 1
Park (Mo.) American Midwest Regular-Season Champion 30-15-1 2nd -- 1-2 --
Reinhardt (Ga.) Appalachian Athletic Regular-Season Champion 41-10 4th 4th 6-3 2
Rio Grande (Ohio) Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Tournament Champion 40-7 2nd 2nd 1-2 --
Saint Xavier (Ill.) Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Regular-Season Champion 40-7-1 4th 4th 7-5 1
Simpson (Calif.) California Pacific Athletic Regular-Season Champion 40-4 2nd -- 4-1 1
Southeastern (Fla.) At-Large No. 3 39-14 2nd 2nd 1-2 --
Southern Oregon At-Large No. 5 36-16 1st -- 0-0 --
St. Gregory's (Okla.) Sooner Athletic Tournament Champion 43-5 4th 4th 6-5 1
Webber International (Calif.) The Sun Tournament Champion 27-14 1st -- 0-0 --
William Carey (Miss.) Southern States Athletic Tournament Runner-Up 37-15 3rd 3rd 7-0 2
Williams Baptist (Ark.) American Midwest Tournament Champion 35-19 2nd -- 4-1 1

^ as submitted by school in DakStats
* Opening Round appearances, including 2016 event
OR = Opening Round

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