Baseball to play Freed-Hardeman in National Championship Opening Round

[Opening Round Schedule] [NAIA Championships App] The NAIA has announced the 45-team field and pairings for the 2021 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round. The 12th annual event takes place May 17-20 at nine host sites. Each of the nine locations features a five-team, double-elimination tournament.

The nine opening round champions join Lewis-Clark State at the 64th annual Avista NAIA Baseball World Series in Lewiston, Idaho, May 28-June 4. For more information on the World Series, click here.

OLLU has been chosen as the No. 5 seed in the Montgomery Bracket. The Saints will face Freed-Hardeman University (FHU), the No. 4 seed, on May 17 at 11 a.m. in Montgomery, Ala. FHU is located in Henderson, Tenn.

All games will be live-streamed at www.youtube.com/FaulknerSportsNetwork.

Live stats will be available at http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Tournament/TournamentPage.aspx?association=10&sg=MBA&tour=3516.

Head Coach Bryan Aughney, who was selected as the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) Coach of the Year, commented, “When you get to this time of year, and the opening round of the National Tournament, everyone is good – and that has been the message since we locked up a berth.  We are excited no doubt; we had a lot of firsts this year, and I’m pleased with the progress our program has made over the last four years. This is what we have been working for, a Conference Championship and an opportunity to go to Lewiston, Idaho.

“Looking at our first-round matchup vs.  Freed-Hardeman, right now we don’t know a lot about them, but we will get to work on that.  As we always talk within our club, we compete against ourselves, and in playoff baseball, it’s about being routine and execution. We had a solid week of practice, and our players are hungry as we didn’t finish in the conference tournament as we wanted to.”

Aughney accomplished much this year aside from winning the coaching award. He recorded his 200+ win (229) overall and his 100+ (105) win at OLLU. This is his fourth year as the Saints’ head coach.

Montgomery Bracket Info

  • Faulkner University will host the Montgomery Bracket games.
  • Other participants that are part of the bracket include:
    • 1. Vanguard (Calif.) – ranked 10th in the NAIA; 37-14
    • 2.  Faulkner (Ala.) – ranked 11th in the NAIA; 35-9
    • 3. St. Thomas (Fla.) – ranked 13th in the NAIA; 33-19
  • Opening round schedule:
    • Monday: 11 a.m. – OLLU vs. FHU
    • Monday:  3 p.m. – St. Thomas vs. Faulkner
    • Monday: 7 p.m. – Vanguard vs. OLLU/FHU winner 


Quick Facts on OLLU

  • The Saints earned their first-ever national ranking this season when they debuted at No. 21 on March 31. Subsequently, they earned the No. 24 ranking from April 14 and No. 22 from April 28. They currently rank as the No. 23 team in the NAIA.
  • The Saints won the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) regular-season title – their first-ever since the program began competing in 2015.
  • Overall record: 34-17 * Conference record: 20-4
  • Best all-time in: .295 batting average; .403 slugging percentage; .964 fielding percentage; 350 runs; 309 RBIs; 647 total bases
  • NAIA rankings: No. 10 in triples (22); 16 in assists (459); 18 fielding percentage (.964)
    • RRAC Player of the Year – Jose Diaz: No. 1 in fielding percentage (1.000), 14 in saves (7); RRAC Pitcher of the Year – Brett Vasquez: No. 19 in wins (9)
  • All-Conference First Team selections: Diaz, Vasquez, Matthew Klar, Alec Martinez, Jacob Mitchell
    • Diaz – 47 runs, 64 hits, 16 doubles, 41 RBIs, .571 slugging percentage,  .474 on-base percentage, .381 batting average, 5-1 on the season, 2.12 ERA, 7 saves, 44 strikeouts, 1.000 fielding percentage
    • Vasquez – 9-1 on the season, 3.41 ERA, 69 strikeouts
    • Klar – 33 runs, 40 hits, 13 doubles, 24 RBIs, .455 slugging percentage, .325 batting average, .417 on-base percentage
    • Martinez – 5-2 on the season, 3.36 ERA, 67 strikeouts
    • Mitchell – 34 runs, 49 hits, 10 doubles, 9 home runs, 46 RBIs, .634 slugging percentage, .338 batting average, .484 on-base percentage, .990 fielding percentage, 22 double plays, 284 putouts, 309 chances

Quick facts on FHU

  • The Lions received five votes in the most current poll. They were ranked No. 25 on March 31 and No. 19 on March 17. In the preseason poll from Nov. 20, the Lions were ranked No. 9.
  • The Lions finished second in the Mid-South Conference regular season. They finished as finalists in the conference tournament.
  • Overall record: 26-23 * Conference record: 15-7
  • NAIA rankings  No. 37 in home runs per game (1.122); No. 46 in total stolen bases (83)
    • Josh Sears: No. 11 in home runs (20); Beau Simpson: No. 13 in chances (395), putouts (360)
  • All-Conference First-Team selections: Josh Sears, Beau Simpson, Jacob Sawyers
    • Sears – 20 home runs, 51 RBIs,.389 batting average, .854 slugging percentage, .529 on-base percentage
    • Simpson – .350 batting average, 7 home runs, 34 RBIs, 12 doubles
    • Sawyers – 6-2 on the season, 75 strikeouts, 2.28 ERA
       

The field consists of 30 automatic qualifiers – given to conference regular-season champions, tournament champions or tournament runners-up – and 15 at-large teams. Conferences with 10-or-more members receive two automatic qualifiers, while leagues with less than 10 get one. This season due to COVID, any conference was allowed a drop of up to three schools from its original total in order to keep multiple bids. Any conference that started with six schools was guaranteed to keep its bid.

At-large teams were determined by the NAIA Baseball National Selection Committee (NSC). The NSC consists of one representative from each geographic area, a representative from the National Administrative Council, a member of the NAIA-Baseball Coaches Association Executive Committee and three at-large members. The committee evaluated teams throughout the year on various criteria.

For more information on NAIA Baseball, click here.

InstitutionQualifying Method2021 RecordAppearancesLast TimeOR TitlesOpening Round Record
Bellevue (Neb.)At-Large38-16112019218-17
Benedictine (Kan.)At-Large34-141N/A00-0
Benedictine Mesa (Ariz.)At-Large31-141N/A00-0
Bryan (Tenn.)Appalachian Pool B Champion35-166201906-10
Central Methodist (Mo.)Heart Tournament Champion43-64201902-6
Columbia (Mo.)AMC Tournament Champion36-92201902-2
Concordia (Neb.)GPAC Regular Season/Tournament Champion38-93201902-4
Corban (Ore.)Cascade Tournament Runner-Up22-291N/A00-0
Cumberlands (Ky.)Mid-South Tournament Champion46-64201904-6
Doane (Neb.)GPAC Regular Season Runner-Up35-17-14201404-6
Faulkner (Ala.)At-Large35-9112019725-7
Fisher (Mass.)A.I.I. Tournament Runner-Up31-201N/A00-0
Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)Mid-South Tournament Runner-Up26-2362019210-7
Georgia GwinnettA.I.I. Tournament Champion42-972019317-7
Hope International (Calif.)At-Large27-133201916-2
Indiana TechWHAC Regular Season Champion31-25102019117-16
Indiana WesleyanCrossroads Regular Season/Tournament Champion43-123201801-4
IU Southeast (Ind.)River States Tournament Champion45-147201908-12
Keiser (Fla.)At-Large33-162201801-2
Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)World Series Host Berth41-4N/AN/A00-0
Loyola (La.)At-Large36-131N/A00-0
LSU Shreveport (La.)Red River Tournament Champion40-13122019216-18
Mayville State (N.D.)North Star Tournament Champion35-167201704-12
McPherson (Kan.)At-Large36-131N/A00-0
MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)Heart Tournament Runner Up39-144201703-6
Middle Georgia StateAt-Large34-195201906-8
Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio)Crossroads Tournament Runner Up32-197201505-12
Northwestern OhioWHAC Tournament Champion29-174201818-4
Oklahoma CityAt-Large33-17112019624-10
Oklahoma WesleyanKCAC Regular Season Champion46-862019213-7
Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)Chicagoland Regular Season/Tournament Champion36-183201901-4
Ottawa (Kan.)KCAC Tournament Champion35-181N/A00-0
Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)Red River Regular-Season Champion34-171N/A00-0
Point Park (Pa.)River States Tournament Runner-Up37-145201815-6
Reinhardt (Ga.)At-Large32-192201813-1
Saint Katherine (Calif.)CalPac Tournament Champion29-161N/A00-0
Saint Xavier (Ill.)Chicagoland Tournament Runner-Up32-254201902-6
Science & Arts (Okla.)Sooner Tournament Champion34-1062019211-4
Southeastern (Fla.)The Sun Tournament Champion47-762019210-6
St. Thomas (Fla.)At-Large33-1992019318-11
Tennessee WesleyanAppalachian Pool A Champion51-4122019529-16
USC Beaufort (S.C.)At-Large31-215201618-7
Vanguard (Calif.)GSAC Tournament Champion37-1452016110-6
Warner (Fla.)At-Large33-212200900-2
Westmont (Calif.)At-Large27-186201907-10
William Carey (Miss.)SSAC Tournament Champion34-1072018115-11

Opening Round Notes

  • Overall, there are 23 repeat qualifiers from the 2019 opening round, including all nine teams that won opening round titles last season – Bellevue (Neb.), Faulkner (Ala.), Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), Georgia Gwinnett, Indiana Tech, Science & Arts (Okla.), Southeastern (Fla.), St. Thomas (Fla.), and Tennessee Wesleyan.
  • Tennessee Wesleyan is the lone team in the field with 50 or more wins at 51-4 overall. Southeastern has the next highest win total at 47-7.
  • LSU Shreveport (La.) and Tennessee Wesleyan are back in the field for a 12th time, which leads the field. These two clubs are the only NAIA teams to have participated in every event since the format was established in 2009. Bellevue (Neb.), Indiana Tech, Bellevue, Faulkner, and Oklahoma City all have 10 or more appearances.
  • There are nine newcomers to the opening round in this year’s field in Benedictine (Kan.), Benedictine Mesa (Ariz.), Corban (Ore.), Fisher (Mass.), Loyola (La.), McPherson (Kan.), Ottawa (Kan.), Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) and Saint Katherine (Calif.).
  • Faulkner has the honor of the most opening round championships with seven. 19 teams in the 2021 field have at least one opening round championship to their credit.
  • The Sun Conference leads all leagues with five teams in the 2021 field. The Southern States is second on that list with four. Four leagues checked in with three teams.