NAIAKANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially released the pool play schedule for the 2011 NAIA Softball National Championship, held May 19-25 at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex in Gulf Shores, Ala. The Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission, in conjunction with the University of Mobile (Ala.), will host the 31st annual event for the first time in Gulf Shores, Ala. 

Pool Play SchedulePool Play SchedulePDFPDFBracket ScheduleBracket SchedulePDFPDF

The 32 qualifiers will all play three games in pool play action that spans three days, May 19 – 21.There are eight pools composed of four teams each, with the pool winners advancing to an eight-team double-elimination bracket that will be played out May 23 – 24. There are four fields with four games each day during pool play action. The 2011 champion will be crowned on May 25 from the Gulf Shores Sportsplex. 

For the first time, some games in the double-elimination bracket will be video-streamed live via NeuLion. Game 9 on May 23 will be the first of as many as seven games that will be available. Games 9 – 15, which may include the “if necessary” game, will be streamed for a subscription price of either $5.95 per day, or an event fee of $19.95. Click herehere for more information. 

The first game of the tournament pairs MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) against Friends (Kan.) on May 19 at 9 a.m. CDT on Field 1. Defending national champion Simon Fraser (B.C.) begins play against Reinhardt (Ga.) at 12:30 p.m. on Field 3. 

California Baptist (59-3), who has been ranked No. 1 all season in the Softball Coaches’ Top 25 poll, takes on SUNY Canton (N.Y.) at 2 p.m. on Field 1. SUNY Canton is one of seven teams who are making its first appearance in the National Championship. The other newcomers include: Central Baptist (Ark.), Davenport (Mich.), Iowa Wesleyan, Reinhardt, St. Thomas (Fla.) and Simpson (Calif.). 

The all-time championship wins leader with a 99-36 record, Oklahoma City (44-12), matches up against Mobile at 1 p.m. on Field 4. The Stars are making their NAIA-record 25th overall trip and have played consecutively in the National Championship since 1992. Simon Fraser (14-23) is second on the wins list (59) and is making its 15th trip. Mobile (34-17) punched its ticket to Gulf Shores for the 16th overall time, which is ranked second-most among current participants. 

Of the teams that have appeared at least one previous time, Oregon Tech is breaking the longest drought. The Lady Owls (35-12) last made the trip in 1997. They will face Northwood (Texas) at 9:30 a.m. on Field 2. Also playing in the event for the first time in over 10 years is Azusa Pacific (Calif.). The Cougars are snapping an 11-year drought and will battle St. Thomas at 6 p.m. on Field 4. 

Overall, there are 10 programs making at least their fifth National Championship appearance. Conversely, 18 teams are relative newcomers with this trip being their third-or-fewer appearance. 

The Southern States Athletic Conference lands the most teams in this year’s field with four: Belhaven (Miss.), Mobile, Shorter (Ga.) and William Carey (Miss.). The Association of Independent Institutions qualified three teams: Cal State San Marcos, Central Baptist and Simon Fraser. Three other leagues boast a pair of teams in the National Championship. 

The current field is comprised of 27 automatic qualifiers based upon their conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournaments, four at-large selections, which were determined using the final Top 25 rating released Tuesday and the host berth awarded to Mobile. 

For more information on the National Championship, click herehere

- Courtesy of the NAIA

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