MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande has been picked as the favorite in the 2022 River States Conference Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The poll was released by league officials on Friday.
The RedStorm received a total of 81 points in the polling of the RSC’s softball head coaches, including nine of a possible 10 first-place votes.
Head coach Chris Hammond’s squad finished 48-16 overall and 24-3 in the RSC last season en route to the RSC Championship. The RedStorm reached the NAIA Opening Round finals but fell just short.
Rio Grande has won five of the last six RSC Championship tournaments. The RedStorm began the year “receiving votes” nationally and just outside the NAIA Softball Coaches’ Top 25 Preseason Poll.
IU Southeast, the RSC’s other squad that is receiving national votes, was picked second.
The Grenadiers were voted second in the poll with 69 points and the remaining first-place vote on the heels of a 47-18 overall record and a 22-8 mark in league play last season.
Like Rio Grande, IU Southeast was one game shy of the NAIA World Series in 2021. The Grenadiers are receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25 as well.
Things have come down to Rio Grande and IU Southeast over the last several years. Rio Grande came out on top, 6-5, in a winner-take-all second championship game in the finals of last year’s tournament. It was the first conference tournament held in two years due to COVID.
IU Southeast’s tournament title in 2019 ended a streak of four straight titles for Rio Grande. Both are again the favorites in the West and East divisions, respectively.
After the top two teams, there is a log jam in third place in the poll.
Carlow (Pa.) University, Midway (Ky.) University and WVU Tech are all tied for third with 53 points each. Those were three of the remaining four playoff qualifiers last year. Asbury was the other, but has since left the conference.
Carlow made a memorable run late in the regular season to make the playoffs and knocked off IU Southeast along the way.
Midway was second in the RSC West last year and, along with Carlow, is picked as a divisional runner-up this year as well.
WVU Tech was in the last three teams left in last year’s RSC Championship, but was edged by IU Southeast, 5-4, in nine innings in the semifinals.
Of the three tied teams, Carlow was picked runner-up in the overall conference by two coaches and Midway got one such nod.
Point Park (Pa.) University was picked sixth overall and third in the RSC East with 47 points, while RSC newcomer St. Mary-of-the-Woods (Ind.) College was predicted third in the RSC West and seventh overall with 35 points.
Oakland City (Ind.) University, with 30 points, was followed by Ohio Christian University (16 pts.) and Brescia (Ky.) University (13 pts.) to round out the 10 teams in the poll.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.