KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The next stop of the University of South Carolina Beaufort baseball team's improbable postseason run will be Hattiesburg, Miss., as the Sand Sharks will be the No. 5 seed in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round Hattiesburg bracket.
The brackets for the nine Opening Round sites were announced Monday, and the Sand Sharks were sent to Hattiesburg along with top-seeded Northwood (Texas), No. 2 seed Oklahoma Baptist, No. 3 seed and host William Carey (Miss.) and No. 4 seed Central Methodist (Mo.).
USCB and Central Methodist will square off in the first game of the tournament at 1 p.m. ET Thursday with the winner advancing to face Northwood at 8 p.m. ET. The loser will drop into an elimination game at 1 p.m. ET Friday.
The Sand Sharks are playing in the Opening Round for the third time in the past four years, and their three appearances match Northwood, Oklahoma Baptist and William Carey for the most in the bracket. Only USCB and Oklahoma Baptist have won Opening Round titles. Central Methodist is making its first appearance in the Opening Round.
USCB is trying to duplicate last year's surprising run to the Avista-NAIA World Series. The Sand Sharks won five straight elimination games at Hardeeville's Richard Gray Sports Complex to reach the World Series for the first time.
Getting back there seems unlikely as a No. 5 seed, but the Sand Sharks weren't expected to be in the Opening Round at all. They earned an automatic bid by finishing as runner-up to Embry-Riddle in last week's Sun Conference Tournament, winning their first three games in the tournament after squeaking in with the sixth and final seed.
USCB has never faced any of the other teams in the Hattiesburg Bracket.