Softball draws Pool G, defending champs for NAIA Championship
By Matt Green
NAIA Softball National Championship
May 17-23 • Gulf Shores Sportsplex • Gulf Shores, Ala.
GULF SHORES, Ala. – Shorter University’s road to a softball national championship will go through the defending national champs. In their final appearance in the NAIA Softball National Championship, the Lady Hawks wouldn’t have it any other way.
10th-ranked Shorter, making its sixth straight nationals appearance, has drawn the second seed out of Pool G for the national tournament that begins next Thursday, May 17 in Gulf Shores, Ala.
In order to win the pool and reach the Elite Eight for the third consecutive year, the Lady Hawks (46-11) will have to navigate through one of the championship’s toughest groupings, one that includes defending national champion and seventh-ranked Oregon Tech, which is trying to become the third team in NAIA history to repeat (Oklahoma City, Emporia State).
Also featured in Pool G are third-seeded St. Gregory’s (Okla.) and fourth-seeded Madonna (Mich.).
Shorter opens pool play against St. Gregory’s (43-14), an at-large selection out of the Sooner Athletic Conference, which is making its fifth appearance in the national tournament and first since 2009. The Cavaliers are 17-9 all-time in tournament play and will square off with the Lady Hawks at 1:30 pm ET on May 17.
Madonna (33-12), champions of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, is in the NAIA Softball National Championship for the fourth time and for the first time since 2010. The Crusaders already own a victory over the Lady Hawks – a 4-0 victory way back on March 9 as part of the Gulf Shores Invitational at the very same complex. Shorter and Madonna will square off on May 18 at 6 pm ET.
Should the Lady Hawks survive their first two games, it would set up an interesting matchup with last year’s surprise national champions.
Oregon Tech, which went 7-1 in last year’s tournament before topping No. 1-ranked California Baptist 1-0 in the title game, enters the national tournament with a 39-7 record after claiming the Cascade Collegiate Tournament championship. The Hustlin’ Owls are making just their third appearance in the championships, but have compiled an impressive 8-3 record in those visits.
Shorter is the most experienced member of Pool G. The Lady Hawks haven’t missed an NAIA Softball National Championship since 2007 and are one of six representatives from the Southern States Athletic Conference in the tournament field.
No. 6 William Carey, No. 13 Lee, No. 16 Brenau, No. 18 Auburn-Montgomery and unranked tournament host Mobile are joining Shorter in Gulf Shores to compete for a championship. Among all SSAC schools in the tourney, only Mobile has a national championship under its belt.
The National Championship opens May 17 with pool play beginning at 10 am ET. There are eight pools of four teams apiece competing through May 19 for the best record. The eight winners from each pool then meet in double-elimination bracket play, which starts May 21 at 11 am. There will be live video streaming starting with the 6:30 pm games on May 21.