Tag Archives: NAIA

CBB’s NAIA pre-season top 10

David DavisBy: Bob Broughton, tbirdbaseball.net
It’s difficult to handicap NAIA baseball before games have actually been played on the field, because the top NAIA teams rely heavily on JUCO transfers. My first prediction, however, is that this ranking will be more accurate than the one released by the NAIA in November. Here goes: Continue reading CBB’s NAIA pre-season top 10

Houston Baptist releases 2008 schedule

The Houston Baptist University has released the 2008 schedule. This is the first season that the Huskies will participate in Division 1 as they are moving up from NAIA where they finished third in the NAIA World Series in 2007 with a 43-21 record. The team opens the season on February 1st when Concordia-Texas comes in for the start of a three game set. They will play the first game against a Division 1 program on February 26th when they play a doubleheader against Stephen F. Austin. They will end the season taking part in the NCAA Division 1 Independent Tournament in Edinburg. The full schedule is available by clicking here.

I wonder why the Huskies are being allowed to start the season on February 1st when the uniform start date is February 22nd. Anyone have any answers? If you do then leave them in the comments section.

Thanks to Bob Broughton of Tbirdbaseball.net for the heads up on the schedule.  He is the best source for NAIA baseball news on the Internet.

Former UBC star Jeff Francis set to start Game 1

Jeff Francis is set to start for the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday Night in Game 1 of the World Series. He has pitched in two games in the playoff run where he has a 2-0 record with a 2.13 ERA. Hitters are only hitting a paltry .213 against the lanky lefty. Francis was a standout player with the University of British Columbia where he was drafted out of in the first round. Tbirdbaseball.net sent us a video of an interview done with the CBC about Francis which can be watched by clicking here.

NAIA puts out a feature on Jeff Francis

Former University of British Columbia All-American pitcher Jeff Francis has led the Colorado Rockies to the NLCS in the MLB playoffs against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has had a solid season with a 17-9 record with a 4.22 ERA in the most hitter friendly ballpark in MLB. Francis picked up a victory in the NLDS as he led the Rockies to a 4-2 victory in Game 1 over the Philadelphia Phillies The full article from the NAIA is available here.

Thanks to Bob Broughton of T-Bird Baseball (UBC Fan Page) for the link.

NAIA announces new playoff format

By Special Contributor
Bob Broughton, http://tbirdbaseball.net/

Last week, the NAIA Council of Presidents unanimously approved a new qualification scheme for baseball and ten other sports. The change will take effect for the 2009 season.

The term the NAIA uses for this is “direct qualification”. It means that the qualifiers for the NAIA national championship tournament in Lewiston, ID are the winners of nine opening-round tournaments, plus the host school, Lewis-Clark State. More specifically,

  • Each opening-round tournament consists of five teams. 45 teams will be involved in direct qualification.
  • 22 of these teams are determined by conference tournaments. The champion of a conference with at least six baseball-playing members becomes an automatic qualifier.
  • 22 more teams are at-large selections.
  • One spot is reserved for “true independents”.
  • Competition in the opening-round tournament is double-elimination.

There are some important details missing from this announcement, which will be discussed further down. However, this new arrangement is already an improvement over the status quo, which is 14 regional tournaments, followed by seven super-regional tournaments. The problem is that most of the good NAIA teams are in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and the sun belt. The result has been that some very good teams have stayed home while some not-very-good teams have qualified for the national tournament.

The missing details are, who hosts the opening-round tournaments, and how the tournaments are seeded. It doesn’t look like the top nine teams are going to be the hosts. It’s possible that the top nine could include a couple of schools within a few miles of each other, and it’s also possible that the top nine could include schools that don’t have adequate facilities for hosting a tournament of this nature. (Wireless access for live bloggers, for example.) The NAIA would like to play these tournaments in locations where there’s a chance of drawing good crowds, in order to make some money to contribute to travel expenses.

Once the sites are determined, who goes to which tournaments? The fairest way to do it would be the way the NCAA sets up the basketball regional tournaments, but the NAIA simply can’t afford this amount of travel. The “Final Recommendations” document implies that 15 teams would be flying to the opening-round tournaments, but there’s no information about what this is based on. It certainly suggests that most teams would be playing within a bus ride from home. Is there going to be a rule that qualifying teams from the same conference would be sent to different opening-round locations?

The main criticism I have of the new arrangement is, 45 teams is overkill. In the NAIA’s final poll last season, only 37 teams received votes. It would make more sense to limit it to 36 teams, an even four teams per location.

The automatic bid for Lewis-Clark State is also a contentious issue, but not for the reason you might think. I haven’t bothered to check when the last time was that the Warriors were not ranked among the top ten teams; let’s just say that it was quite a while ago. What puts Lewis-Clark State in a privileged class is the fact that their entire regular season, in effect, consists of exhibition games. In 2006, 40 of the 49 games that they played were at home (one road game was rained out), and two of the road games were at nearby Washington State and Gonzaga. They only played three double-headers (one scheduled double-header was rained out.) Can you say, “recruiting advantage”?

It isn’t difficult to understand why the NAIA has passed on another opportunity to correct this inequity. The national championship tournament is an important source of revenue for the NAIA. The tournament would still turn a profit without Lewis-Clark State’s participation, but it would be a smaller profit. The national championship tournament will continue as the “Lewis-Clark State Invitational” because of financial reality.

NAIA press release: NAIA Presidents Approve Direct Qualification

Task Force Final Recommendations (MS Word document)

U of British Columbia visits France

From Guest Bob Broughton of Tbirdbaseball.net

The U. of British Columbia Thunderbirds, wearing jerseys that say “Team Canada” on them, won four of six games against the French Senior National Team in the last week of August in Clermont-Ferrand, France.

This was a good result against a French team that has some hope of qualifying for the 2008 Olympics in a tournament in Barcelona next month. However, the most pleasant surprise for the Thunderbirds was the performance of RHP Taylor King, a transfer from Pierce College in the Los Angeles area. In his very first start for the Thunderbirds against the French, he pitched six shutout innings. (His second start, in the final game of the series, was less successful; he was chased after giving up four runs in three innings.)

King potentially fills a major hole in the UBC pitching staff, and there’s a history behind it. The Thunderbirds made their first and only appearance in the NAIA National Championship Tournament in Lewiston, ID in 2006, and finished fourth with a 2-2 record. Although most of that team graduated, UBC had plenty of reasons to expect continued future success. Their two best starters were returning, and they had a very good recruiting year.

Problem was, one of those starters, Shawn Schaefer, became an unexpected academic casualty at the end of the fall semester. Brendan Rolfe, a senior who had been used mostly as a reliever, did an admirable job of taking Schaefer’s place. The Thunderbirds won two of four against Lewis-Clark State, who eventually won the NAIA championship and had eight players drafted, and one more signed as a free agent. However, an embarassing late-season fade and an two-and-barbecue result in the Region I tournament left the Birds with a record of 21-20 for 2007, and they didn’t have a player drafted for the first time since 2000.

UBC had what appeared to be an excellent recruiting year, but it turned out to be too good. One of the signees, RHP Mitch Hodge, was drafted in the fourth round. He had been projected to go in the twelth round, and he wasted no time in signing with the Royals. Another signee, outfielder Cody Phipps, was drafted by the Astros, and he turned pro, too.

So, UBC Head Coach Terry McKaig got on the phone, and landed Taylor King, who was playing for the BC Ballers of the Pacific International League. (One of his teammates with the Ballers was the aforementioned Shawn Schaefer.) King had already been approached by Lewis-Clark State and Cumberland, another NAIA power, but he had been hoping to hear from McKaig.

King’s collegiate career started at Cal State-Northridge, but arm trouble and surgery landed him at Pierce College, where he did well. During the summer, he also pitched for the Nanaimo Coal Miners. They won the Western Canada championship, and one of his teammates was UBC sophomore Mark Hardy, who was the starter for both of those wins against Lewis-Clark State, and also did very well in France. Hardy allowed only one run in 10 1/3 innings of work.

The Thunderbirds will start the 2008 season on February 14, at NAIA Fresno Pacific. They have been doing a February California tour for several years. In the past, they have been able to schedule several Division I teams. They couldn’t do this in 2008 because of the new rule that prohibits D-I teams from playing prior to February 22. Instead, the Thunderbirds will play a mixture of NAIA and Division III teams.

A complete video of the fifth game, in Windows Media Player format, is available here.

Steve Bray named head coach of Concordia-Irvine

Steve Bray has been named the new head coach of the Concordia-Irvine baseball program for the 2007-2008 season. Bray has spent the last three seasons as the pitching coach for the Eagles. He brings a strong background including pitching with San Mateo for two seasons before transferring to South Carolina for his junior season. His appointment should give the Eagles a presence in California since he is from the area originally. Thanks to the members of The UBC Thunderbird Baseball Fan Page for the information.

Canada in midst of five game series with France

Team Canada (All University of British Columbia players and coaches) are in France to take on the French national team. The French team is preparing for the European championships which is the Olympic qualifying tournament. The teams have played three games already with France opening the series with an 8-2 victory with Canada winning 4-2 and 11-3 in the last two games. The teams will play on Wednesday at 10 AM EDT, Thursday at 1 PM EDT, and Friday at 4 AM EDT. The games on Thursday and Friday can be watched by clicking here. The University of British Columbia fansite is providing excellent recaps of each game here.

Juco’s getting shafted by new Draft Rules??

The Courier News checks in with an article on the new draft rules and how they will impact the baseball program at Elgin Community College. They are one of the top Juco teams in the country and they consistently send players to Division 1 colleges or the MLB draft. The article believes that there will be very little effect on the baseball team at Elgin.
You can read the full article here.