We will host the national tournament first round, with four teams playing Monday – Wednesday next week. If we win this opening round, our team will advance to the NAIA Softball World Series in Columbus, Ga., May 24 – 30.
Congratulations to our softball players, Head Coach Kevin Griffin, and Assistant Coach Rebecca Rousseau.
Here is the story:
The Belhaven softball team is headed back to the NAIA National Championships for the third time in four seasons and will host one of 10 opening round tournaments. The Blazers finished 5th in 2010 and 3rd in 2011 and will be making the programs third overall appearance thanks to an at-large berth in this year’s field. Belhaven boasts an impressive 9-4 record in national tournament competition.
The 2013 season marks this first time the championship will feature an opening round format. There will be 10 opening round sites with four teams at each location adding up to a total of 40 schools in the tournament field. Belhaven was selected to host one of the 10 opening round events, which will be played May 13-15 at Clinton High School in Clinton, Mississippi.
Belhaven enters the NAIA National Championships with a 35-12 record and a number 13 ranking in the final regular season top 25 coaches’ poll. The Blazers finished third at the Southern States Athletic Conference Championships this past weekend and will be the number two seed in the Belhaven bracket. The SSAC, arguably the toughest softball conference in the NAIA, sent four teams including Belhaven to this year’s tournament. Lee, Auburn-Montgomery, and Spring Hill will also represent the SSAC in this year’s field.
The three schools making the trip to Clinton will be Reinhardt University, William Woods University, and LSU-Alexandria. Reinhardt will be the top seed in the bracket after boasting a 40-6 record during the regular season. Reinhardt, ranked 8th in the final top 25 poll, hails from the Appalachian Athletic Conference and is in the field via an automatic bid as the conference’s regular season champion. This will be the Eagles third overall appearance in the tournament with their last coming in 2012. They are 2-4 in national tournament competition.
William Woods is the third seed and will be Belhaven’s first opponent in the tournament. The Owls are 24-14 overall and punched their ticket to the national tournament as the American Midwest Tournament Champion. William Woods landed in the receiving vote’s category in the final top 25 poll and are making their 11th trip to the national tournament. The Owls last appeared in 2011 and own an overall record of 10-24 in national tournament games.
The fourth seed in this year’s Belhaven bracket is LSU-Alexandria. The Generals earned an automatic bid as the runner up in the Association of Independent Institutions Tournament. LSU-Alexandria is 22-28 overall and is making its first ever appearance in the NAIA National Championship Tournament. The Generals will take on top-seeded Reinhardt in the first round of the Belhaven bracket.
The event will kick off on Monday with Belhaven battling William Woods at 2:00 PM CDT at Clinton High School followed by the Reinhardt and LSU-Alexandria matchup at 5:00 PM. Game times for Tuesday are 1:00 PM, 3:30 PM, and 6:00 PM with the championship game on Wednesday at 1:00 PM. Each of the Opening Round winners will advance to the NAIA Softball National Championship final site in Columbus, Ga., May 24 – 30. The format in Columbus is a double-elimination, 10-team event on a single championship field.