KANSAS CITY, Mo.– (Pairings) (Video 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 here.
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 here.
-- 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