KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially released the field of 32 teams for the 30th Annual NAIA Softball National Championship, held May 20 - 26 at the Wilson Morgan Softball Complex in Decatur, Ala. The pool play schedule for the event will be announced Tuesday afternoon.
The Union College Lady Bulldogs (20-16, 8-8 AAC) will be making its first ever appearance at the national tournament after claiming the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament back on April 30, at Domtar Park in Kingsport, Tenn.
Oklahoma City is the longest attending team, qualifying for the 24th time overall and 18th consecutive season. Not only do the Stars have the most championship appearances among the field, but also have won eight National Championships with the last coming in 2007. The Stars captured their third straight Sooner Athletic Conference title to punch their ticket to Decatur.
Defending national champion California Baptist is one of three other teams among the field that has won a title. The Lancers are joined by three-time champ Simon Fraser (B.C.) and 2008 titlist Lubbock Christian (Texas).
Six teams will be attending their first NAIA Softball National Championship: California State-San Marcos, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), Mid-America Nazarene (Kan.), Minot State (N.D.), and Union (Ky.).
Midwest Collegiate Conference Tournament champion Mount Mercy (Iowa) qualified for its fourth trip to the National Championship, but first since 1990. The Mustangs are the only team to previously play in the event and not make an appearance during the 2000s.
The 32-team field is comprised of 26 automatic qualifiers from NAIA affiliated conferences, Association of Independent Institutions and unaffiliated groupings and six at-large selections, which were determined using the final Top 25 rating released on May 4.
The Lady Bulldogs carry a mark of 0-1 into the 2010 NAIA World Series against teams who qualified for the 32-team tournament, dropping an early season decision to Shorter College, 4-0. Union was scheduled to play two other teams who made the national tournament, Lee University and Lindsey Wilson College; both doubleheaders were cancelled however, due to the adverse weather throughout the past spring.