LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) released the pairings and seedings for the 2009 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round, scheduled for May 12-15 at nine sites across the country. Each site will feature a five-team double elimination tournament. The winners of those nine Opening Round tournaments, in addition to host school Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), will meet at the final site for the 53rd Annual Avista-NAIA World Series from May 22-29 in Lewiston, Idaho. The Field 1 Tournament presented by City Bank is hosted by No. 1 Lubbock Christian University. Joining host LCU is two-seed Wayland Baptist University (Texas), three-seed Northwood University (Texas), four-seed William Jewel College (Mo.) and five-seed University of Houston-Victoria (Texas). All Field 1 tournament games will be played at Hays Field on the LCU campus.
Tournament play will begin Tuesday at 10 a.m. with Houston-Victoria facing William Jewel. Three games will be played Tuesday, with Wayland Baptist facing Northwood at 2 p.m. and Lubbock Christian playing the winner of the 10 a.m. contest at 6 p.m.
Lubbock Christian enters the tournament with a 44-6 overall record and they received an automatic bid as Sooner Athletic Conference Champions. They completed the SAC with a 25-4 record. The Chaparrals rank in the top-three in ten different NAIA statistical categories. They lead the NAIA in doubles per game (3), while also ranking second in hits per game (12.3), homers per game (2.1), batting (.389) and slugging (0.714). LCU had six All-Sooner Athletic Conference members and four made First Team. One of those is Will Stramp, who leads the NAIA with an impressive .514 batting average, and also leads in hits per game (1.9), runs per game (1.6) and total bases per game (3.8). Stramp is also third in slugging (1.023) and RBI per game (1.6).
Two-seed Wayland Baptist University enters the tournament ranked No. 18 in the NAIA and they join LCU as the only two ranked teams in the tournament. The Pioneers are 40-13 this season and they finished the SAC with a 19-11 record to finish third in the conference. They received the fourth of 14 at-large bids. Wayland Baptist ranks in the top-ten in six NAIA statistical categories, including ranking second in strikeouts per game (8.7), third in home runs per game (2.1) and fourth in slugging (.628). They are led at the plate by Brett Cook, who has posted 100 hits and a .485 batting average. He ranks second in the NAIA in hits per game (1.9), third in runs scored per game (1.5) and in batting (.485). On the hill, Lubbock native Marcus Limon leads the NAIA with 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Northwood comes to Lubbock via an automatic bid after claiming the Red River Athletic Conference title. The Knights enter winners of their last six games and 11 of their last 12. Based in Cedar Hill, Texas, Northwood has a 36-17 overall record and they went 15-2 in the RRAC. Northwood ranks second in the NAIA in doubles per game (2.7), third in slugging (0.633), and eighth in homers per game (1.7) and runs per game (9.2). R.J. Harris leads the Knights offense with a .418 batting average. He ranks seventh in runs scored per game (1.4) and eighth in doubles per game (0.5). The RRAC named him the conference Player of the Year.
William Jewel College received an automatic bid to Lubbock as the runner-up of the Heart of America Athletic Conference. The Liberty, Missouri based program went 28-12 in the HAAC and possess a 43-17 overall mark. The Cardinals had a heartbreaking loss in the HAAC Championship, losing to Lindenwood 9-8 on a walk-off home run. WJC ranks 11th in the NAIA in stolen bases per game (2.5). Jon Ubbenga leads the Cardinals with a .418 batting average and is fourth in the NAIA in doubles per game (0.5). On the mound, Joe Malin has a 3.75 ERA and is ninth in the NAIA with a low of just 1.2 walks allowed per nine innings pitched.
In just their second season of existence, University of Houston-Victoria is the youngest program coming to Lubbock. They qualified for the Opening Round by winning the Association of Independent Institutions tournament by beating out Lambuth University. The Jaguars, coached by former Houston Astros and Canadian National Team head coach Terry Puhl, are an independent team that has a 33-15 record. They rank fifth in the NAIA in homers per game (1.8), seventh in strikeouts per game (7.3), and tenth in slugging (.599) and opponents batting average (.253). Zane Williams, with 74 RBI, ranks fifth in the NAIA in RBI per game (1.5). They are led by pitcher Ray Maldonado, who has held opponents to a .180 batting average (sixth in the NAIA) and averages 5.9 hits allowed per nine innings (eighth in the NAIA).
The winner of the double-elimination tournament will advance to the 53rd Annual Avista-NAIA World Series. Only Lubbock Christian and William Jewel have a history of appearing in the NAIA World Series. William Jewel has made ten appearances, with their last coming in 1983, which ironically was hosted by Lubbock Christian and was the year the Chaps won the national title. WJC won the NAIA World Series in 1968 when it was played in St. Joseph, Missouri. LCU has made seven all-time NAIA World Series appearances, with the last coming in 2006.
LCU appreciates their support from City Bank (www.citybankonline.com), who will serve as LCU's title sponsor of the tournament. Tickets for the tournament are on sale (806-720-7276 for additional info). Tournament passes are $20 for adults and $10 for students. Day passes (three games) will be sold at the Hays Field Box Office on game days for $10 for adults and $5 for students. The tournament festivities begin Monday, May 11th at 6:30 p.m. with the Tournament Banquet presented by Billy Fairchild CFP. The banquet will be hosted at Cagle Steaks and the keynote speaker is former LCU and Texas Tech baseball head coach Larry Hays. Individuals and/or businesses may sponsor team tables for $100 (includes two dinner tickets), and individual dinner tickets are $20. With Hays and UHV's Puhl, there will be two members of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on hand.
Souce: Chris Due