KANSAS CITY, Mo. ---- The Auburn University at Montgomery softball team will face a tough challenge in pool play at the 2012 NAIA Softball National Championship, as it will be paired with No. 8 Azusa Pacific, No. 9 Olivet Nazarene and William Penn in the opening portion of the tournament.
The Warhawks (38-18) will open the tournament by taking on the ninth-ranked Tigers at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 17. AUM will then face the eighth-ranked Cougars at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, before capping pool play with a 9 a.m. tilt against the Statesmen on Saturday.
The current field is comprised of 23 automatic qualifiers based upon their conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournaments, eight at-large selections, which were determined using the final Top 25 rating released Tuesday and the host berth, Mobile.
The Cougars drew the top seed in Pool H and enter the tournament with a 40-10 record, including a 12-4 mark in the Golden State Athletic Conference. Azusa received the second at-large berth award to the tournament and is making its fifth appearance. The Cougars sport a 12-8 all-time record in the tournament.
Olivet Nazarene is the No. 2 seed and brings 53 wins to the tournament, the second most in the NAIA this season. The Tigers punched their ticket to the tournament by winning the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Tournament championship and are making their eighth appearance in the field. The Tigers are 10-13 in 23 games in the event.
After finishing as the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament runner-up, the Warhawks earned the No. 3 seed in the pool. AUM is among six first-time participants in the tournament, joining Bethany (Kan.), Indiana Wesleyan, Southern Nazarene (Okla.), Talladega (Ala.) and Williams Baptist (Ark.).
The Statesmen round out the pool as the No. 4 seed and sport a 46-16 record on the season. Making its third tournament appearance, and first since 2007, William Penn secured its spot by winning the Midwest Collegiate Tournament. The Statesmen are 2-6 all-time at the NAIA tournament.
The winner of each pool will advance to an eight-team double-elimination bracket that will be played out May 21 - 23. The 32nd annual national champion will be awarded on May 23 from the Gulf Shores Sportsplex.