MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande is the predicted favorite in the 2020 River States Conference Softball Coaches’ Preseason Poll.
The RedStorm received five of nine first-place votes and 60 total points in the balloting of the league’s head coaches.
Rio Grande, which ended last year ranked No. 23 in the NAIA Top 25 Poll, finished 36-16 and reached the finals of the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round – one game shy of the NAIA World Series.
Head coach Chris Hammond’s club won the 2019 RSC regular season championship with only one loss in 18 games.
Rio Grande opens its 2020 regular season schedule on Feb. 14 in Lawrenceville, Ga. with a split doubleheader against Georgia Gwinnett College and Reinhardt (Ga.) University.
Point Park (Pa.) University was picked second in the poll with 57 total points and three first-place votes. The Pioneers were 22-18, 12-6 RSC last year and made it to the final three teams of the RSC Softball Championship.
IU Southeast was tabbed third in the poll with 53 points and the final first-place vote. The Grenadiers won the 2019 RSC Softball Championship, with its run to the title featuring two wins over Rio Grande.
IU Southeast, 33-24 overall, 13-5 RSC last year, made it to the final day of the NAIA Opening Round.
Midway (Ky.) University was picked fourth in the poll with 41 points. The Eagles were 22-27 a year ago and reached the final four teams of the conference championship.
WVU Tech was picked fifth with 33 points, coming off its 20-28 campaign and playoff appearance, while Carlow (Pa.) University was sixth with 29 points. The Celtics were 20-22 in 2019.
Brescia (Ky.) University (26 pts.), Asbury (Ky.) University (15 pts.) and Ohio Christian University (10 pos.) rounded out the poll.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.