Coyotes headed to Shreveport for NAIA Opening Round, faces Concordia in first round

Kansas Wesleyan baseball coach¬†Bill Neale¬†had a diplomatic answer when asked if it’s an advantage or disadvantage playing a team the Coyotes had faced during the regular season.

KWU plays Concordia (Nebraska) in an Opening Round game of the NAIA National Championship at 2:30 p.m. Monday in Shreveport, Louisiana. Pairings were announced Thursday for Opening Round games that will be played May 13-16 at 10 sites across the country.

The 20th ranked and third-seeded Coyotes (45-10) know plenty about the No. 18 and second-seeded Bulldogs (41-13) after playing a doubleheader against them February 20 at Dean Evans Stadium. Concordia won both games 14-5 and 5-2.

“I look at it this way,” Neale said, “it’s hard to beat a good team three times. That’s the glass is half full answer for me.”

No. 4-ranked Louisiana State-Shreveport is the host, the top seed in the Shreveport bracket and has an opening bye. Fourth-seeded Talladega (Alabama) plays fifth-seeded Blue Mountain Christian (Mississippi) at 11 a.m. Monday in the first game of the day – the winner facing LSU-Shreveport at 6 p.m. Monday.

The Coyotes play at 11 a.m. Tuesday with a loss and 2:30 p.m. with a victory.

The bracket winner, along with the other nine Opening Round winners, advances to the 67th Annual AVISTA NAIA World Series on May 24-31 in Lewiston, Idaho.

KWU won the Kansas Conference’s regular season title with a 32-4 record and finished second in the KCAC tournament losing to Oklahoma Wesleyan 6-4 in the championship game Sunday in Great Bend.

“We struggled a little bit offensively at the conference tournament but I think we’re pitching it at a high level,” Neale said. “We’re trying to get some guys healthy; we’ve got few guys who are a little banged up.”

Concordia was 21-7 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference and shared the regular season title with No. 19 Doane. The Bulldogs defeated Doane 5-1 Tuesday in the GPAC tournament title game. It was their seventh tournament title in seven years.

“They’re a good team,” Neale said. “It is what it is. I like going to Shreveport, it’s something different for our boys. It’s a really nice facility, it’s kind of a baseball school, they really support baseball so it should be fun for our guys. We’ll get on the bus after graduation on Saturday and go.”

KWU is making its third consecutive trip to the Opening Round. The Coyotes played in the 2023 Opening Round at Fayette, Missouri and went 2-2, defeating Central Methodist twice and losing twice to top-ranked Southeastern (Florida).