Thursday, August 15, 2013
BILLINGS, Mont. – The 2014 Montana State Billings Desert Stinger softball tournament field will include 32 teams as the largest NCAA Div. II softball tournament hosted by one school returns to Las Vegas for the fifth straight year Feb. 7-9.
The tournament’s field has expanded to 32 teams for the first time in its history. Last year’s tournament had 28 teams. The tournament field grew last year from 16 teams in 2010 to 24 teams in 2011. The tournament features teams from eight conferences, another new high in the event’s history.
“We’re excited to welcome four more teams to this year’s field,” MSU Billings’ softball head coach Lisa Allen said. “This tournament continues to get better each year. The teams make it a good tournament, but the staff and volunteers that run the tournament make it great. We’re very pleased that we can put on this great event again this year.”
The conferences represented in this year’s field are the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (10), the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (6), the Pacific West Conference (5), the California Collegiate Athletic Association (4), the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (3), the Lone Star Conference (2), the Heartland Conference (1), and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1).
Along with the Yellowjackets, Central Washington, Northwest Nazarene, Simon Fraser, Western Oregon and Western Washington will all be at the tournament to represent the GNAC. Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference sends the largest contingent of teams for the second straight year. Defending national champion Central Oklahoma becomes the first member from the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association to play in the tournament.
Seven schools that appeared in the final 2013 national rankings are in this year’s field. This year's tournament field also features six teams that won their conferences a season ago. Humboldt State won the California Collegiate Athletic Association, Colorado School of Mines won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Hawaii-Hilo was the Pac West Conference champions, Texas Woman’s College finished first in the Lone Star Conference, Saint Mary’s won the Heartland Conference, and Central Oklahoma claimed the MIAA title.
Humboldt State and Texas Woman’s College met in the first round of the national championships. HSU finished as one of the final four teams, while the Pioneers lost their first two games at the championships. Central Oklahoma was the fourth-seed in the Central Region before making its run to a national title.
Augustana returns to the Desert Stinger for the fourth time, a year after finishing its season in the Central Region tournament. Colorado School of Mines, Saint Mary’s, and West Texas A&M all fell in the South Central Regionals last season. Dixie State, Hawaii-Hilo, and Sonoma State all fell in the West Regional. Cal State-Dominguez Hills’ season ended in the West Region Super Regional.
Central Oklahoma, Colorado State-Pueblo, and Texas Woman’s College all making debuts in the Desert Stinger. Saint Mary’s and last year’s Desert Stinger champion, West Texas A&M, are the only unbeaten teams in the tournament's history. Both teams won all five of their games at the Stinger tournament. The University of Mary’s 15 victories are the most wins in the tournament’s history.
University of Mary, Dixie State, New Mexico Highlands, Fort Lewis, and Chadron State are the only schools that are in this year's field that have also been in the previous four tournaments along with host, Montana State Billings.
The three-day tournament begins on Feb. 7. All games will be played at Majestic Park again this year. Teams are guaranteed five games to be played mainly over the three days and include contests against region counters and no contests against conference opponents. The full tournament schedule will be released in November. Special discount codes for hotels and rental cars are now available on MSUBSports.com.