Softball Season Begins With MSUB's Desert Stinger

Friday, February 5, 2016
by Montana State Billings Athletic Communications

LAS VEGAS - For the next three days, the epicenter of the GNAC softball universe is in the desert.

For the seventh consecutive year, Montana State University Billings is set to host an opening-season NCAA Division II softball tournament over 1,000 miles away from its campus. This year's 2016 field contains 24 teams from around the west and central regions that will compete for the tournament championship title. The tournament contains a five-game round-robin format, with the winner being crowned based on total record, points, and run differential.

The Desert Stinger tournament began in 2010 with just 16 teams, has grown as large as 32 teams, and this year has 24 teams competing from six conferences:

Great Northwest Athletic Conference: MSU Billings, Central Washington, Concordia (Ore.), Northwest Nazarene, and Western Washington.

California Collegiate Athletic Association: Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State Monterey Bay, Cal State San Bernardino, Sonoma State, and Stanislaus State.

Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference: Colorado Mesa, UC Colorado Springs, New Mexico Highlands, Regis, and Western New Mexico.

PacWest Conference: Azusa Pacific, Cal Baptist, Concordia Irvine, and Hawaii Hilo.

Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference: Augustana (S.D.), Concordia-St. Paul, University of Mary, and Minot State.

Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association: University of Nebraska Kearney.

"We are honored to host this tournament as it is a great for our institution, conference, and NCAA Division II softball," Montana State University Billings director of intercollegiate athletics Krista Montague said. "We are proud to have set a stage to provide DII institutions an opportunity to pick up competitive non-conference games. It is important for each team to be playing against strong competition outside of their respective conferences, especially when it comes to NCAA postseason selections."

Returning to the tournament this year are previous champions Augustana (S.D.) (2010, 2011), Sonoma State (2012), and Cal Baptist (2014).

Two of those teams enter the tournament with preseason national rankings as #19 Sonoma State, #20 Augustana (S.D.), #21 Regis, and #25 Cal State Monterey Bay are all listed on the 2016 NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) preseason poll.

MSU Billings, the University of Mary, New Mexico Highlands, and Western New Mexico are the only four teams to have attended all six previous years of the Desert Stinger tournament.

Six games will be contested at four times Friday and Saturday while teams will compete at two times on Sunday. All of the games will feature live stats on the MSUB Stretch Internet portal. Games on Field 1 will also include a live video stream.

For a complete schedule and links to each school and team individual schedules please visit the tournament home page here.