MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Top-seeded University of Rio Grande was declared the champion of the 2018 River States Conference Softball Tournament on Sunday after the RedStorm won the winner’s bracket with a 3-0 record in the tournament.
No. 3 seed Midway (Ky.) University (23-20) was deemed the tournament runner-up after coming through the loser’s bracket and being one of the final two teams remaining along with Rio Grande (35-11).
Rio Grande and Midway will be the RSC’s two automatic qualifiers to the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round.
The tournament, which was being held at Jackson Memorial Park in Vienna, W.Va., was unable to be completed due to inclement weather. The eight-team, double-elimination tournament was scheduled for Friday-Saturday, but rain played a factor throughout the weekend by not allowing Friday’s full schedule to take place. The same scenario also took place on Saturday.
When weather forced play to be stopped on Saturday night, the loser’s bracket final between No. 3 Midway and No. 4 Point Park (Pa.) University had just started and was in the top of the first inning. Rio Grande was waiting in the championship round as one of the only three teams remaining at that point.
The Midway-Point Park game was pushed back to Sunday, and despite yet another weather delay, the contest was completed. Midway pulled out an 8-7 victory with a dramatic win in extra innings.
With weather playing a factor once again Sunday night, the championship round of Rio Grande versus Midway was cancelled.
Both teams were already assured an automatic qualification to the NAIA national tournament. Rio Grande had locked up a national bid with its RSC regular-season title. When the RedStorm made it to the final two teams of the RSC Tournament, the other final team was also guaranteed an NAIA bid.
Rio Grande beat Midway when the teams played in the tournament. The RedStorm beat the Eagles, 8-2, in the winner’s bracket final — a loss which sent Midway into the matchup with Point Park.
Rio Grande, which outscored the opposition 19-4 in its three tourney wins, will enter the national tournament with an 11-game winning streak. The RedStorm is 35-11 overall and was 16-2 in RSC during the regular season.
The brackets and pairings for the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round will be announced on Tuesday, May 8 at 5 p.m. ET on the NAIA’s Facebook page.
The NAIA Opening Round will take place May 14-16 at 10 sites around the country.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.