The Butler Grizzlies kick off the 2022 NJCAA National Tournament in Yuma, Arizona with a game against the Central Florida Patriots on Tuesday at 6:00 PM CT. The Grizzlies will be the sixth seed in this year's tournament, and the Patriots come in as the 11th seed.
Central Florida comes in with a 45-16 record overall and a conference record of 16-4. They punched their ticket to Arizona with a South Atlantic District Tournament championship win. The Patriots have won seven of their last eight games. Central Florida is led by their ace Savannah Barnett, the Mid-Florida Conference Pitcher of the Year and district tournament MVP. Something will have to give as the Grizzlies high powered offense will have to face Barnett in the circle who currently possesses a 1.67 ERA in 25 appearances. Gianna Guerriero was the other player to receive first team all conference honors, finishing with a .486 batting average with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs.
The Patriots are led by coach Mike Lingle, in his second season at the helm of Central Florida. The Patriots are sixth in the nation in doubles, and they're fourth in the country in stolen bases, with 211 stolen bases while being caught just 13 times. They're 15th in the nation in hits, with 616.
Next up for the Grizzlies after Central Florida in the double elimination tournament will be the winner or loser of the game between third seeded Wallace State and 14th seeded Paris. Paris comes into the tournament with a 33-15 record while perennial powerhouse Wallace State comes in with a 54-2 record on the year. Also on this side of the bracket for Butler will be McLennan and Crowder, a team that the Grizzlies were slated to play in February in Branson, Missouri, in the Branson Bash that was cancelled, and Snead State and Yavapai, who the Grizzlies saw in Yuma last season, in a rematch from Yuma last season, a game that the Roughriders won 5-4, ending Butler's season.
On the other side of the bracket, the reigning national champion Florida Southwestern sits as the top seed of the tournament, and the number one team in the country. The Grizzlies saw the Bucs in an epic showdown last season, a game that Butler lost 2-1. Southwestern comes in with a record of 49-5, with a perfect 20-0 conference record. The Bucs will start with Georgia Military Institute, who come in as the 16 seed. Also on the other side of the bracket will be the eighth seeded Chattanooga State who will play the ninth seeded Southern Idaho, the 5/12 game which will feature Odessa and San Jacinto, and the fourth seeded Seminole State playing the 13th seeded LakeLand.
The Grizzlies' quest to win their third national title since 2016 will kick off with the game on Tuesday against the Patriots at 6:00 Central Time.