Rio softball 25th in final NAIA coaches poll

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande softball team finished 25th in the final NAIA coaches’ poll of the 2016 season, released Wednesday night by the national office.

The RedStorm, who dropped three positions from the final regular season coaches’ poll, collected 108 points in the balloting by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions.

Head coach Chris Hammond’s squad finished 41-9 overall – setting a single-season school record for victories – after going 1-2 in the Opening Round of the NAIA National Tournament.

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

The RedStorm were the only KIAC program in the Top 25, although IU-Southeast was among the schools who received votes.

Oklahoma City was the No. 1-ranked team for the seventh consecutive ranking, receiving all 19 first place votes and 529 total points in the balloting. The Stars finished with a 67-3 record.

National runner-up St. Xavier had 512 points and claimed the No. 2 postseason ranking. The Cougars advanced to their first-ever national championship contest. Auburn-Montgomery (Ala.), Southeastern (Fla.) and St. Gregory’s (Okla.) rounded out the top five.

No. 8 Marian (Ind.) had the biggest rise in the poll, moving up nine positions. No. 21 LSU-Alexandria had the biggest slide in the poll, falling 12 spots.

The newcomers to the final edition of the poll were No. 7 Williams Baptist (Ark.), No. 11 Webber International (Fla.) and No. 22 Oregon Tech. Both Williams Baptist and Oregon Tech posted a Top 25 ranking earlier this year, while Webber International landed its first posting this season.

Through the 10 polls this year (including Preseason), there were 41 different ranked teams.

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

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing