KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Heart of America Athletic Conference Softball Tournament will have a new home starting in 2017 as the Bill McKinney Heritage Park Complex in St. Joseph, Mo., will stage the event from May 3-6.
The 10-team event will bring a postseason event back to St. Joseph after the league's Baseball Tournament was staged at Phil Welch Stadium until 2014. The winner of the tournament will earn an automatic berth into the Opening Round of the NAIA Softball World Series.
"Our goal is to increase the student-athlete and coach experience in all of our championship events," said commissioner Lori Thomas. "St. Joseph has a great facility along with the experience to enhance championship amenities for everyone."
The facility, which has hosted NAIA and NCAA championship events, includes chair-back seating on its championship field, pavilion with concessions stand for fans, and press box to allow game staff to create a complete championship environment for student-athletes and fans.
Evangel is coming off a 31-16 season a year ago and looking for its first tournament title since the 2009 season under second-year head coach Jay Halbrook. The Crusaders open the 2017 season February 15 at Oklahoma Wesleyan in a non-conference double-header.
Founded in 1971, the Heart of America Athletic Conference expanded to 14 member schools from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska for the 2016-17 academic year. The conference manages 20 intercollegiate varsity sports programs and all 14 schools are members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.