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Raiders find out opening round foes

ASHLAND — Southern Oregon’s national title defense begins with the NAIA Softball Championship Opening Round on Monday in Medford, where the No. 8-ranked Raiders will welcome three opponents with whom they have minimal familiarity.

The Raiders (46-12 overall), seeking their fifth consecutive trip to the NAIA World Series and third consecutive title, own the top seed in the Southern Oregon Bracket for the fourth postseason in a row. The double-elimination tournament will also feature No. 2 seed and 10th-ranked Grand View (Iowa) (42-9), No. 3 seed and 24th-ranked Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) (40-3), and No. 4 seed Taylor (Ind.) (26-27).

The complete 40-team field and brackets for all 10 Opening Round sites were released Tuesday by the national office. The Opening Round champions will advance to Columbus, Ga., for the World Series from May 26 through June 1.

The Raiders are once again partnering with the City of Medford to hold their Opening Round at Lithia & Driveway Fields.

They’ll start with Taylor in the teams’ first-ever meeting at 1:30 p.m. Monday. That game will be preceded by Embry-Riddle against Grand View at 11 a.m.

The tournament continues with three games Tuesday, and the last two teams standing will meet Wednesday in the final round.

Embry-Riddle, the California Pacific Conference champion, is the only team SOU has previously faced — most recently in 2018. Grand View was the Heart of America Conference’s North Division regular-season champion, and Taylor earned its bid by reaching the title game of the Crossroads League Tournament.