Rio finishes 20th in final NAIA softball poll

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande softball team finished 20th in the final NAIA coaches’ poll of the 2017 season, released Wednesday night by the national office.

The RedStorm, who dropped three positions from the final regular season coaches’ poll, collected 210 points in the balloting by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions.

Second-year head coach Chris Hammond’s squad finished 47-10 overall – setting a single-season school record for victories – after going 2-2 in the Opening Round of the NAIA National Tournament and getting within one win of a trip to the NAIA World Series.

Rio Grande won both the River States Conference regular season and tournament championships to reach the national tourney for a second straight year.

The RedStorm were the only RSC program in the Top 25.

National champion Oklahoma City finished its year-long run as the top-ranked team, receiving all 19 first place votes and 529 total points in the balloting. The Stars finished with a 68-1 record.

National runner-up Corban (Ore.) had 505 points and claimed the No. 2 postseason ranking, while LSU-Alexandria, Columbia (Mo.) College and Davenport (Mich.) University rounded out the top five.

Davenport reached the World Series by posting back-to-back wins over Rio Grande to capture the championship of the Grand Rapids Bracket.

No. 6 Southern Oregon had the biggest rise in the poll, moving up 14 positions. No. 15 Lindsey Wilson College had the biggest slide in the poll, falling nine spots.

The newcomers to the final edition of the poll were No. 10 Indiana Wesleyan and No. 13 Ottawa (Kan.). Ottawa is listed for the first time in school history. The Wildcats were last mentioned in the 2016 Preseason Top 25.

Overall, 18 of the 19 conferences are represented in this edition. The Southern States Athletic Conference had the most schools represented with three. Five other conferences sent at least two schools into the Top 25.

Through the seven polls this year (including Preseason), there were 42 different ranked teams.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing