The NAIA has announced the following locations for sectional tournaments, which will take place May 12-15:
|Lubbock Christian University||Lubbock, TX|
|Oklahoma City University||Oklahoma City, OK|
|Berry College (Southern States Athletic Conference)||Mount Berry, GA|
|Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University||Daytona Beach, FL|
|Lee University||Cleveland, TN|
|Azusa Pacific University||Azusa, CA|
|William Carey University||Hattiesburg, MS|
|Lindenwood University||St. Charles, MO|
|Great Plains Athletic Conference||Sioux City, IA|
The winners of these nine tournaments will go to the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Lewiston, ID May 22-29. The host team, Lewis-Clark State, gets an automatic bid, and does not participate in the sectional tournaments.
There will be five teams in each of the sectional tournaments, and the tournament are double-elimination. Champions of conferences that have six or more baseball-playing members get automatic bids.
Analysis: The next shoe to drop is, which teams go to which sectionals?
The current NAIA coaches’ poll has these rankings for the hosts:
Nebraska Wesleyan currently holds first place in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. They are currently ranked #57 in Boyd Nation’s Iterative Strength Rating.
The final coaches’ poll takes place on May 8, and decisions on seeding would be based on this one.
The following top ten teams (excluding Lewis-Clark State) will presumably be top seeds in whatever sectional they play in, and are not sectional hosts:
|Point Loma Nazarene||3|
First, it’s unlikely that the NAIA would put Point Loma Nazarene in the Azusa sectional, because Point Loma Nazarene and Azusa Pacific are in the same conference. Southern Polytechnic would not be going to Mount Berry or Cleveland, TN, because they are in the same conference as Berry and Lee.
More generally, these five teams would not be going to Lubbock, Oklahoma City, Mount Berry, or Daytona Beach, because that would be putting two top ten teams in the same sectional.
What remains to be seen is, how much weight will the NAIA give to seeding, and how much to travel distance? Would they send #19 Southern Nazarene to #1 Lubbock Christian, #18 LSU-Shreveport to #2 Oklahoma City, and, going the rest of the way through the list, #10 Campbellsville to #11 Lee? #8 British Columbia to #12 Azusa Pacific? Actually, this doesn’t work out all that badly for travel distance, but two teams in the top 19 would have to travel to St. Charles and Sioux City, unless Lindenwood moves up in the rankings before the end of the season.