The Southern States Athletic Conference is one of the best leagues in NAIA, having sent at least one team to the NAIA World Series for five straight years. William Carey University figures to be among the SSAC teams chasing postseason glory in 2016. “We return a ton of experience from last season and have added a deep and talented recruiting class,” veteran coach Bobby Halford said in a school release. Carey, which opens today at Ave Maria in Florida, returns seven regulars, topped by All-SSAC pick Tyler Richardson, who batted .385 and scored 50 runs in 50 games; Nick Lowe, who hit six homers and drove in 40 runs; and SSAC freshman of the year Tyler James, who stole 30 bases. Added to the mix are the likes of James Land, a slugging first baseman from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and Adrian Brown, an outfielder with speed and pop from Copiah-Lincoln CC. The Crusaders will miss ace Gavin Culpepper, who went 9-2 for a 30-23 club. Senior Mason Woodrow (3-4, 6.39 ERA in 2015) will be among the pitchers counted on to step up. Carey was pegged to finish tied for third in the league’s preseason poll. P.S. Blue Mountain, pegged eighth in the SSAC, opens today against Judson College in New Albany. Millsaps, coming off a 29-win season that ended in the NCAA Division III regionals, plays Randolph-Macon in Alabama today. The Jeremy Haworth era at Mississippi College will begin on Saturday, when the Choctaws host Tougaloo for a doubleheader. The opener was pushed back from today.