Sports

NAIA softball returning to Columbus in 2020 after tournament scheduling conflict

A collegiate softball championship is coming to Columbus for one year.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced Tuesday that the NAIA Softball Championship scheduled for May of 2020 in Springfield, Missouri, will be relocated to Columbus due to a scheduling conflict with Killian Field, according to a press release.

“We are thrilled to return to Columbus for the 2020 NAIA Softball World Series,” Director of NAIA Championships Mike Higgins said in the release. “Columbus is a tremendous host for our student-athletes and the improvements to the stadium are impressive. Our student-athletes will be thrilled to take the field there to compete for a national title.”

The agreement is for 2020 only, according to the release, however, the NAIA has opened a bid for 2021-22 with submissions due on November 1, 2019. A decision will be made by January of 2020 on the winner of this bid. Columbus has notified of its intent to bid.

The 2020 championship will be hosted at the South Commons Softball Complex, which was the site of the 1996 Olympic Women’s Softball Tournament, and most recently, the USA Softball International Cup in July of 2019.

The stadium recently underwent a $4.8 million renovation that included upgrades to architectural improvements, a new drainage and irrigation system, upgrades in lighting and more. Continued upgrades will bring the total renovations cost to nearly $5.6 million.

The annual event features 10 teams which compete in a double-elimination bracket to determine which will raise the red banner. Southern Oregon earned the title in 2019.

This will be the second time that Columbus has hosted the NAIA Softball National Championship. The city also hosted the event in both 2013 and 2014, along with the NAIA Swimming and Diving National Championships from 2016-2019.

“The Sports Council of Columbus, Georgia is elated to host the NAIA National Softball Championship,” Columbus, Ga. Sports Council Executive Director Merri Sherman said, via the release. “Our beloved South Commons Softball Complex has held many championship games, and we look forward to welcoming NAIA teams to Columbus once again.”

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Joshua Mixon is a reporter for the Ledger-Enquirer. He covers sports (Auburn and preps) and local news, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. He previously covered Georgia athletics for the Telegraph. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshDMixon.
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