KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande is ranked No. 25 in the preseason edition of the 2016 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll announced Tuesday by the national office.
The RedStorm, which advanced to the NAIA National Tournament last year as the champion of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, earned its first Top 25 ranking since the 2011 season.
Head coach Brad Warnimont’s club returns six everyday starters and two starting pitchers from last year’s 35-win squad.
Defending Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series champion Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) holds the No. 1 ranking. The Warriors, who won an NAIA record 17th World Series title a season ago, garnered 17 first-place votes and 467 total points en route to the preseason top spot – their first such ranking since 2009.
Lewis-Clark State boasts an NAIA-best 55 all-time top mentions and owns the NAIA’s longest active streak in the Top 25 at 147-straight editions.
No. 2 St. Thomas (Fla.), No. 3 Faulkner (Ala.) and No. 17 Northwestern Ohio were the only other clubs to hold steady from the 2015 Postseason Poll.
The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference – No. 4 Tabor (Kan.), No. 9 Oklahoma Wesleyan and No. 20 Sterling (Kan.) – and the Golden State Athletic Conference – The Master’s, No. 16 Westmont (Calif.) and Vanguard – lead all conferences with three programs represented each.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions. The first regular-season edition will be released on March 15.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.