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Raiders ranked third in NAIA preseason Top 25

The Southern Oregon University softball team landed at No. 3 in Tuesday’s NAIA Top 25 preseason coaches’ poll, just as it was in the preseason and postseason editions last year.

Coming off a record-breaking 51-15 season in which they came up one win short of a spot in the national championship game, the Raiders are 18 days away from opening the 2019 campaign against Menlo (Calif.) and Simpson (Calif.), Feb. 2 in Redding, Calif.

SOU hadn’t appeared in the preseason poll in 12 years before last season but is now aiming to qualify for the NAIA World Series for the third year in a row. Oklahoma City, which SOU eliminated in the 2018 World Series, owns the No. 1 ranking while defending champion Science & Arts (Okla.) is No. 2.

Last month, the Raiders were picked to defend their Cascade Conference regular-season and tournament titles. Their CCC rivals, Oregon Tech and Corban, are 10th and 16th in the national poll. Eastern Oregon and Carroll (Mont.) are receiving votes.

SOU plays at home for the first time on Feb. 26 against Simpson and opens its CCC schedule at home on March 1 against EOU.

Southern Oregon University second baseman Hannah Shimek gets a high-five from head coach Jessica Pistole during the second game against St. Francis at U.S. Cellular Community Park on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. [PHOTO BY: LARRY STAUTH JR]