NEW ALBANY, Ind. — The University of Rio Grande has been picked third in the 2018 River States Conference Baseball Preseason Coaches’ Poll released Tuesday morning by league officials.
The RedStorm tallied 64 points in the balloting of the league’s 10 head coaches. Head coach Brad Warnimont’s club is coming off a season of 34-19-1 overall and 24-7-1 RSC. Rio Grande won the conference tournament in 2015 and 2016.
Indiana University Southeast was tabbed as this year’s conference favorite. The Grenadiers ended last year ranked No. 15 in the final NAIA Top 25 poll and were within one game of the NAIA World Series.
IU Southeast had a record of 48-15 overall, 25-7 RSC last year and received nine of the 10 first-place votes in the conference preseason poll. The Grenadiers reached the championship game of the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round Kingsport Bracket before falling to No. 5 Keiser (Fla.), 9-6, one game shy of the NAIA World Series.
IU Southeast led the poll with 81 points.
Point Park (Pa.) University grabbed the remaining first place vote and 72 points to finish second in the poll. The Pioneers were 36-19 overall, 26-6 RSC last year as conference regular-season champions, their fourth in five years.
Behind Rio Grande in fourth place was Midway (Ky.) University, last year’s RSC Tournament champion, with 57 points. The Eagles were 28-30, 20-12 RSC in 2017, their first year as a baseball program. Midway qualified for the NAIA Opening Round with its conference title.
WVU Tech reached the conference tournament finals last year and is picked fifth this year. The Golden Bears received 50 points and were 31-28 overall, 18-12 RSC last year.
Indiana University Kokomo is entering its first year of competition in baseball and was picked sixth in the poll. The Cougars got 36 points and are projected to be the sixth-and-final postseason tournament qualifier in the conference.
Brescia (Ky.) University made the playoffs last year and was picked seventh this year. The Bearcats were 13-37, 9-23 RSC a year ago. Asbury (Ky.) University was picked eighth coming off an 18-35, 8-24 campaign in 2017.
Cincinnati Christian (13-38, 7-25 RSC) and Ohio Christian University (8-41-1, 4-25-1 RSC) round out the preseason poll in ninth and 10th.
Some RSC teams began their seasons playing games this fall, and the season kicks up in full during the month of February. The RSC conference schedule begins March 2 and the RSC Tournament is set for May 3-6 at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Now with 10 baseball teams, the RSC will advance two automatic bids to the NAIA Opening Round. The RSC regular-season champion and RSC Tournament champion will be guaranteed a spot in the national tournament.
The NAIA Baseball Preseason Top 25 Coaches’ Poll is scheduled to be release Nov. 7 from the national office.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.
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