The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced late Wednesday that the No. 2 nationally-ranked Brenau University softball team will face Edward Waters College in Alexandria, La., on Monday in the opening round of a national championship regional that features three Top 25 teams.
The top-seeded Golden Tigers represent the Southern States Athletic Conference as both the regular-season and tournament champions with an unprecedented 26-0 regular-season league record, a 4-0 conference tournament record and a 51-5 overall mark. No other SSAC team has ever won all of its conference games in regular-season and postseason play.
Edward Waters, the No. 4 seed in the four-team double-elimination regional and the runner-up in the Association of Independent Institutions/Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, finished league play unranked with a 26-25 overall record.
The Brenau-Edward Waters winner will face the winner of the earlier May 15 matchup between second-seeded LSU Alexandria (26-1, 46-8), the No. 12 nationally ranked Red River Athletic Conference champ, and third-seeded No. 25 Science & Arts (21-7, 38-16), the runner-up in the Sooner Athletic Conference from Chickasha, Oklahoma. LSU Alexandria hosts the regional playoff games on its home field.
The top team to emerge from the Alexandria matchups will join nine other regional winners from around the country in the NAIA Softball World Series in Clermont, Florida, May 26 - June 1. The bracket for that tournament will be posted May 17 following completion of the 10 regionals.
The Alexandria games could produce a record for both Brenau and the NAIA. Golden Tigers freshman pitcher Kathleen (Eli) Daniel with 539 strikeouts already this season is just a single strikeout from tying the NAIA’s all-time single-season record of 540 set by Oklahoma City University’s Lily LaVelle in 2012.
Brenau took the SSAC tournament championship April 29 in Decatur, Alabama with a nine-inning 2-1 win. Daniel was the winning pitcher in all four Brenau games. She struck out 15 batters in the final win. Daniel enters the NAIA tournament as the national leader in strikeouts, ERA (0.52), wins (42), opponents’ batting average (.128) and innings pitched (309 1/3).