KANSAS CITY, Mo. ---- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) officially announced the pairings and site selections for the 2012 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round on Sunday and the Auburn University at Montgomery baseball team earned the No. 2 seed at the Daytona Beach Bracket.
The nine NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round sites are as follows: Daytona Beach, Fla., Oklahoma City, Okla., Azusa, Calif., Hardeeville, S.C., Paducah, Ky., Cleveland, Tenn., Kingsport, Tenn., Hillsboro, Kan., and Marion, Ind. Each of the locations will feature a five-team double-elimination tournament May 10-14.
The Warhawks, who finished the regular season tied for 15th in the final NAIA Baseball Coaches' Top 25 Poll, will be joined in the bracket by No. 1 seed Embry-Riddle, No. 3 seed Biola (Calif.), No. 4 Southern Poly and No. 5 Siena Heights (Mich.).
"We are excited that our players, especially this group of seniors, has an opportunity to continue their season," head coach Q.V. Lowe said. "This looks to be a tough bracket, so we know we will have to be on top of our game to be successful. I think the keys for us are to play with a lot of confidence and execute in all three phases, hitting, pitching and defensively. We have had three great days of practice and I feel good about the state of the team heading down to Daytona."
The winners of the nine National Championship Opening Round tournaments, in addition to World Series host Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), will meet at the final site of the 56th Annual Avista-NAIA World Series from May 25 - June 1 in Lewiston, Idaho. The 10-team, official bracket for the World Series will be announced after all nine Opening Round tournaments have been completed.
Twenty-nine teams earned automatic berths to the 45-team Opening Round field by winning their respective conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournaments or regular-season championships. An additional 16 at-large selections - determined by the final NAIA Baseball Coaches' Top 25 Poll released Sunday - round out the field.
The Eagles of Embry-Riddle earned the No. 1 seed at the site after finishing the 2012 regular season with a 40-16 record and capturing the Sun Conference regular-season championship. The Eagles were ranked No. 8 in the final 2012 NAIA Baseball Coaches' Top 25 Poll. ERAU will be making its fourth trip to the Opening Round Tournament, where it sports a 9-1 all-time record.
The Warhawks will be the No. 2 seed, finishing the regular season with a 36-22 record and earned the fifth at-large berth into the field. AUM will be making its third trip to the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round tournament and second consecutive. The Warhawks have recorded a 5-4 record in the opening round and will be playing for its fourth trip in the programs history to the Avista-NAIA World Series. AUM advanced to the World Series in 1990, 1992 and 2006, finishing a National Tournament Runner Up in the 1990 campaign.
The No. 3 seed will be the Eagles of Biola University from La Mirada, Calif. The Eagles finished the regular season with a 26-27 overall record and earned the No. 15 at-large berth to qualify. In the final NAIA Baseball Coaches' Poll, Biola received 31 votes, a mark which ranked 31st. The Eagles will be making their third appearance in the Opening Round Tournament, and have posted a 3-4 record in their previous two appearances.
The final team to earn an at-large berth, Southern Polytechnic State University will be the No. 4 seed at the site and enter the tournament with a 35-23 record. The Runnin' Hornets are making their fourth appearance in the Opening Round Tournament and have recorded a 6-4 record in three previous appearances. Southern Poly was also listed among the others receiving votes in the final NAIA Baseball Coaches' Top 25 poll.
The final team at the Opening Round site is the Saints of Siena Heights. The Saints captured the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Tournament championship and enter the Opening Round tournament with a 31-23 overall record. The Foresters are making their first appearance in the Opening Round Tournament.
The opening game of the bracket will feature Southern Poly and Siena Heights, with the winner advancing to take on Embry-Riddle in the final game on Thursday. AUM will take on Biola in the second game of the day. Game times have yet to be determined.