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Raiders get top seed in NAIA opening round Southern Oregon Bracket

SOU Sports Information

ASHLAND — Northwestern (Iowa), St. Francis (Ill.) and Simpson (Calif.) will join the Southern Oregon University softball team for the NAIA Opening Round, the 40-team field for which was announced Tuesday by the national office.

The four teams will make up the Southern Oregon Bracket, which is one of 10 brackets around the country that will play out May 14-16.

SOU (44-12 overall), which stayed at No. 8 in Tuesday’s final NAIA Top 25 poll, is the No. 1 seed; St. Francis (38-7), ranked No. 15, is the No. 2 seed after winning the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s regular-season and tournament titles; Northwestern (35-11), the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament champion, is the No. 3 seed; and Simpson (34-20), the Cal Pac Conference champ, is the No. 4 seed.

All games will be held at Medford’s U.S. Cellular Community Park. Tournament passes are $10; day passes are $6 for general admission, $4 for seniors, and free for SOU students and kids 12-and-under.

Action starts May 14 at 11 a.m. with St. Francis and Northwestern matching up, and SOU and Simpson will follow at 1:30 p.m. The winner of the double-elimination tournament will move on to the 10-team NAIA World Series on May 25-31 in Clermont, Florida.

The 40-team Opening Round format originated in 2013. The Raiders debuted in 2016 — their first national postseason appearance in a decade — as a No. 3 seed in the Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) Bracket and went 1-2. Last year, they were a No. 2 seed in the Hattiesburg (Miss.) Bracket and won four straight elimination games to reach their first World Series.

The Raiders have not previously played Northwestern or St. Francis. They’re 16-22 all-time against Simpson, including a 3-0 mark during preseason play this February.

A complete Southern Oregon Bracket preview will be published later this week.