posted on July 01, 2010 17:44
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced that the 2011 and 2012 NAIA Softball National Championships will be hosted by the Alabama Gulf Coast Sports Commission (AGCSC), in conjunction with the University of Mobile (Ala.). The events will be played at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex in Gulf Shores, Ala. The 2011 national championship will take place May 19-25 and the 2012 event will be contested May 17-23.
"The NAIA is excited to bring the softball national championship to the Gulf Shores area," said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. "With tremendous facilities and a history of hosting successful events, the Alabama Gulf Coast Sports Commission is a first-class organization that will give all participants, coaches and fans a terrific national championship experience."
The national championship consists of 32 teams with eight, four-team pools playing in the first three days. The eight winners from the pool play format will then take part in a double-elimination championship. Mobile will receive an automatic bid to the tournament as long as they have a record above .500. In 30 previous national championships, the state of Alabama has served as host in 13 of those years. Decatur was host from 1996-97 and most recently from 2000-10.
The Gulf Shores Softball Complex, the newest addition to the Sportsplex, opened in March of 2009. The Sportsplex contains five softball diamonds with a clay infield and bermuda grass. There are also covered dugouts, lights, batting cages, a press box and seating for 200 per field. In addition to the softball fields, the Sportsplex also houses a multi-purpose field house, football, baseball and soccer fields and an eight-lane rubber track.
"We are thrilled to have been selected as the host site for the NAIA Championships for the next two years," said Grant Brown, City of Gulf Shores Director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs. "Hosting an event such as this will allow Gulf Shores to demonstrate our city's spirit and showcase our beautiful beach community to the rest of the nation."
The AGCSC has engineered numerous sporting events and sells Alabama's Gulf Coast as one of the premier destinations. In late March, the NAIA announced that the AGCSC and the University of Mobile will host the 2010 and 2011 NAIA Men's Soccer National Championships in Orange Beach, Ala.
"We are thrilled to have been awarded this event and look forward to welcoming the teams competing in this championship," said Beth Gendler, Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism and Alabama Gulf Coast Sports Commission Director of Sales. "We know all the competitors will come to love the Alabama Gulf Coast and will be impressed with the facilities on which they will be playing. We thank the NAIA for giving us the privilege of hosting these championships."
In addition to the NAIA championship, the Sportsplex was the host site for the Alabama High School Athletic Association Regional Tournament and various levels of the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) World Series. In the past, the facility has played host to the NAIA Region XXIII Women's Softball Championships and the 2010 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Softball Tournament.
"We are certainly excited about the softball national championship being held in Gulf Shores, Ala.," said Dennis Green, NAIA Manager of Championship Sports. "The facilities, local attractions and hospitality in Gulf Shores will surely provide the teams with a first-class national championship experience."
There are 214 softball varsity programs that compete in the NAIA. This past spring, Simon Fraser (B.C.) took home its fourth overall championship with a 4-3 victory over Oklahoma City. Mobile won the championship in 2006.