The National Invitational Softball Championships (NISC) announced Sunday the teams making up the six regionals that will set into motion this unique postseason opportunity for D-I softball programs.
The action begins Tuesday, May 16 – regional hosts are Pacific, Weber State, Illinois State, Lamar, Georgia State and Liberty. Each double-elimination regional concludes play Thursday, May 18; the six-team Championship Round, also double elimination, will run May 21-24 at a host site to be determined.
Here’s the list of qualifiers for the NISC:
Kennesaw State (Atlantic Sun) – Automatic Qualifier
Michigan State (Big Ten) – AQ
Weber State (Big Sky) – AQ
Liberty (Big South) – AQ
Iona (Metro Atlantic) – AQ
Ohio (Mid-American) – AQ
Illinois State (Missouri Valley) – AQ
Utah State (Mountain West) – AQ
UT Martin (Ohio Valley) – AQ
Abilene Christian (Southland) – AQ
IUPUI (Summit) – AQ
Georgia State (Sun Belt) – AQ
Alabama State (SWAC) – AQ
Pacific (West Coast) – AQ
UC Santa Barbara (Big West) – AQ
Cal Poly (Big West) – National RPI
UNCW (Colonial) – National RPI
Western Kentucky (Conference USA) – National RPI
Nevada (Mountain West) – National RPI
Boise State (Mountain West) – National RPI
Murray State (Ohio Valley) – National RPI
UT Arlington (Sun Belt) – National RPI
Campbell (Big South) – At Large
Lamar (Southland) – At Large
UL Monroe (Sun Belt) – At Large
San Diego (West Coast) – At Large
The 15 Automatic Qualifiers are the teams with the best regular-season record in their respective conferences that are not playing in the 64-team NCAA Tournament. Five of these teams finished first in their conference for the regular season (Liberty, Iona, Illinois State, IUPUI and Weber State). The seven National RPI selections all ranked in the top 100 nationally; at-large teams were selected off their body of work. Seventeen of the teams selected won 30 or more games this season.
“We couldn’t be happier with the depth of quality programs that earned their positions in the NISC,” said Dave King, tournament director and CEO of Triple Crown Sports, which is producing the event. “In talking with these teams, the sense of excitement is particularly strong for programs that haven’t had many chances at postseason play. Getting in more quality games and the opportunity to build positive momentum for next year can be critical for a team’s growth.”
Here are the first-round matchups on May 16 for each regional (all times local). Home team listed second; based on RPI.
Region 1: Stockton, CA (Pacific hosts)
UC Santa Barbara (31-26) vs. Nevada (28-23), 4 p.m.
Pacific (27-24) vs. Cal Poly (34-19), 7 p.m.
Region 2: Ogden, UT (Weber State hosts)
San Diego (22-22) vs. Utah State (32-16), 1 p.m.
Weber State (33-19-1) vs. Boise State (30-18), 4 p.m.
Region 3: Normal, IL (Illinois State hosts)
Michigan State (31-22) vs. Murray State (35-18), 4 p.m.
IUPUI (23-29) vs. Illinois State (30-21), 7 p.m.
Region 4: Beaumont, TX (Lamar hosts)
Abilene Christian (32-20) vs. UT Arlington (32-26), 4 p.m.
Lamar (28-28) vs. UL Monroe (30-28), 7 p.m.
Region 5: Atlanta, GA (Georgia State hosts)
Alabama State (21-33) vs. Western Kentucky (29-29), 1 p.m.
Game 1 Winner vs. Kennesaw State (36-18), 4 p.m.
UT Martin (38-18) vs. Georgia State (34-23), 7 p.m.
Region 6: Lynchburg, VA (Liberty hosts)
Iona (26-22) vs. Campbell (29-27), 1 p.m.
Game 1 Winner vs. Ohio (39-16), 4 p.m.
UNCW (33-18) vs. Liberty (38-21), 7 p.m.
About Triple Crown Sports
Based in Fort Collins, CO., Triple Crown Sports has been producing events in youth athletics and the college ranks for more than 30 years. TCS runs both the preseason and postseason WNIT basketball events and produces the men’s and women’s Cancun Challenge tournaments in November, which have been recognized by Sports Illustrated as a top-5 destination tournament for D-I basketball programs. Triple Crown is also rolling out a new “WNIT” concept in D-I volleyball, beginning in 2017. TCS youth fastpitch tournaments (including the 1,000-team Sparkler/Fireworks event) draw the nation’s finest club programs, and hundreds of college coaches attend TCS events for recruiting purposes.