RedStorm softball Georgia bound for NAIA opener

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande will tangle with Milligan (Tenn.) University in the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round’s Lawrenceville Bracket hosted by Georgia Gwinnett College.

The pairings and game times for the 10 four-team sites were announced Tuesday evening by the national office.

The RedStorm, who climbed to No. 28 in the final NAIA coaches’ poll released last week, received the bracket’s No. 2 seed and will face the third-seeded Buffaloes on Monday, May 17, at noon EDT, at GGC’s Grizzly Softball Complex in Lawrenceville, Ga.

Rio Grande (45-14) earned its spot in the national tournament by winning the River States Conference regular season championship, while earning the RSC Tournament title as well.

Milligan (29-7) earned its spot in the national tourney as the Appalachian Athletic Conference’s regular season champion.

The Buffaloes, who defeated Brenau (Ga.) in their AAC Tournament opener before being eliminated with losses to Brenau and Tennessee Wesleyan, will be making their first national tournament appearance since 2017 and their third in the last five full seasons.

Rio Grande is making its seventh national tournament appearance overall and its sixth consecutive trip under the tournament’s current format.

The Lawrenceville Bracket also includes host and top-seeded Georgia Gwinnett University (32-11) and No. 4 Georgetown (Ky.) College (27-20), who will meet in Monday’s second game at 2:30 EDT.

Georgia Gwinnett, which is ranked No. 8 nationally, is making its sixth straight appearance in the national tournament and is serving as an Opening Round host for the fifth consecutive season.

The double-elimination bracket continues on Tuesday, May 18, with the losers of Monday’s games meeting in an elimination contest at Noon. Monday’s winners will square off in Tuesday’s 2:30 p.m. game, while the winner of Tuesday’s first contest and the loser of Tuesday’s second game will meet in another elimination tilt on Tuesday at 5 p.m. EDT.

The championship first final is scheduled for Wednesday, May 19, at noon, while a second final — if necessary — will take place at 2:30 p.m.

The 10 Opening Round bracket winners will advance to the 40th Annual NAIA Softball World Series, which is scheduled for May 27-June 2 at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus, Ga.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

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

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