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TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2007
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Houston Baptist says so long to the NAIA

By Ashley Hargrove
sports@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

After 14 years in the NAIA, Houston Baptist's softball team bid its final farewell to the association Monday night after its 3-1 loss to Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn).

The loss knocked the Huskies out of the NAIA softball championships, and with the school moving to NCAA Division I, Monday marked their final softball game in Decatur.

The school competed in Division I until switching to NAIA in 1993.

"The new president wants to take Houston Baptist back to Division I," HBU assistant athletics director Steve Moniachi said. "We plan on beginning the process early this fall."

Houston Baptist softball coach Mary-Ellen Hall has brought a team here eight of the 10 times Decatur has hosted the championships.

"We love coming to Decatur," Hall said. "The people here are so nice. We feel like we have friends and family here."

Hall and her Huskies have had plenty of success in Decatur. They've advanced to the final eight in two of the last three years. In 2005, they enjoyed their best NAIA finish when they tied for fifth.

Houston Baptist has competed in NAIA Region VI, which includes power programs such as Oklahoma City, St. Gregory's, Oklahoma Science & Arts and Oklahoma Christian.

"There are a bunch of high quality teams in Region VI," Hall said. "Since we see that type play constantly, it can't do anything but help us (in the move)."

Moniachi said even though the Huskies wont be able to participate in the tournament next year, they still will play NAIA teams.

"We will be able to play NAIA teams, but will get to play D-I, II and III teams as well," Moniachi said.

"I wish we could come back here (to Decatur), but we feel it's time to move on. We'll miss this."

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