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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Nineteen top teams are poised to compete in the NFCA NAIA Leadoff Classic on March 9-11 at the South Commons Complex in Columbus, Ga. 

The tournament field includes 13 teams that entered the season ranked in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 or receiving votes, including four squads —Brenau (fifth), Georgia Gwinnett (seventh), Lindsey Wilson and William Carey (both tied for eighth) — that made the top 10. 

Campbellsville, Ottawa (Kan.) and Reinhardt, which ranked 12 through 14, No. 19 Mobile, No. 22 Warner and Ohio’s Rio Grande (No. 23), are the others in the top 25, while Clarke, Thomas and Georgetown all received votes in the preseason poll.  

Overall, 10 of the Leadoff teams played in the NAIA tournament last season, including Ottawa and Warner, who both advanced to the NAIA World Series. Eighteen of the 19 squads qualified for their respective conference tournament, and the full field combined to win 67 percent of their games in 2017. 

Several teams defeated others in the postseason, including Warner, which beat Thomas to reach the Sun Conference title game, and then ended Georgia Gwinnett’s season in the NAIA Opening Round. Brenau, meanwhile, defeated both William Carey and Mobile en route to a Southern States Athletic Conference championship. 

Teams will each play a pre-determined schedule over the three days in Columbus, with 16 of the teams playing five games, and Mobile, Lindenwood and St. Ambrose playing six.  

The non-ranked teams playing in the Leadoff are Calumet, Lawrence Tech, Lindenwood-Belleville, St. Ambrose, Talladega and USC Beaufort. An all-tournament team will recognize players from the participating squads at the conclusion of the event. 

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