Twenty-four of the nation’s top Division III softball teams are headed to LaGrange, Ga., for the second NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic, to be held March 12-14 at Shuford Fields. 

Defending national champion Central (Iowa) headlines the field. Central joins Illinois Wesleyan and Muskingum as teams competing in the Leadoff Classic that ended their seasons at the Division III national tournament. 

Twelve teams who won conference championships in 2003 will compete in the Division III Leadoff Classic, which was last held in 2001. In addition, the last three national champions — Central, Ithaca and Muskingum are among the field of 24. 

St. Mary’s won the 2001 Division I Leadoff Classic after winning the 2000 national championship. 

Teams will compete in round-robin play in six, four-team pools. Following pool play, the top team from each pool, along with two at-large teams, will advance to the Gold Championship Bracket. The remaining four second-place teams, along with four at-large teams will be placed in the Silver Championship Bracket. The remaining eight teams will be assigned to the Bronze Championship Bracket. 

All brackets will be single elimination/consolation. Each team will play a minimum of six games (three pool, three bracket) regardless of pool or bracket assignments. 

The tournament begins Friday at noon, with bracket play beginning Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m.

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