(UGF Athletics) - It will be (4) Campbellsville University on Monday, May 16, in Sioux City, Iowa, with the rest of the Morningside Bracket for UGF softball in the program’s first appearance in the NAIA Softball Opening Rounds. Those are the answers to the who, what, where, and when of the Lady Argo’s postseason questions. The only question left is which team will come away victorious.
Of the four teams in the Morningside Bracket, UGF is the only one not ranked in the NAIA’s final Coaches Top 25 poll. The team’s first opponent of the double-elimination tournament, Campbellsville (Ky.) is the bracket’s top seed and and enters the national postseason with a record of 48-8 and a national ranking of four.
The winner of UGF vs. CU will move on to face the winner of the bracket’s 2nd seed, and hosting institution, (15) Morningside College (44-8) and the 3rd seed (23) Grand View University (43-9). The loser of both games will then face each other in an elimination game
The final winner of the Morningside Bracket, and each of the other nine opening round brackets will then advance to the 2016 NAIA Softball World Series held from May 27-June 2. The winner of the Morningside Bracket will have a small advantage of familiarity over the rest of the field, with the NAIA World Series also being held in Sioux City.
UGF will face a tough test against the power-hitting offense of Campbellsville and a defense that features the national leader in putouts. CU also has prior NAIA Opening Round experience, winning their bracket in 2015.
The Tigers rank nationally in an array of statistical categories including 1st in assists per game (11.696), 2nd in chances per game (33.321), 3rd in home runs per game (1.036), and fourth in ERA (1.380). CU’s sophomore first baseman Hailey Szpila leads the NAIA in putouts per game (9.515) while senior Victoria Decker is 3rd in the nation in ERA (0.860).
Decker will mostly likely be in the pitcher’s circle for the Tigers against UGF’s ace, senior Keeley Van Blaricom, who leads the team with a season ERA of 2.23 and came off of an excellent three-day stretch at the Cascade College Conference Tournament.
Her performance and the performances of the rest of the UGF squad in the CCC playoffs are why the Lady Argos will play in the program’s first national postseason game. UGF beat two ranked opponents, both of whom also made the NAIA Opening Rounds, on its way to a runner-up finish.
The CCC, while not top heavy and only have one team in the final Top-25 poll, proved its depth by tying for the most teams to qualify for the NAIA Opening Rounds. Both UGF and Eastern Oregon earned one of the conference’s two automatic qualifiers while (21) Southern Oregon University and (RV) Oregon Tech each received one of nine at-large bids.
Full Morningside Bracket Schedule:
Monday, May 16
Game 1 -
No. 2 Morningside (Iowa) vs. No. 3 Grand View (Iowa)
Game 2 -
No. 1 Campbellsville (Ky.) vs. No. 4 Great Falls (Mont.)
Tuesday, May 17
Game 3 -
Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2
Game 4 -
Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2
Game 5 -
Loser of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4
Wednesday, May 18
Game 6 -
TBD vs. TBD
Game 7 (If Necessary) - Noon
TBD vs. TBD