In five months, defending NAIA national football champion Southern Oregon travels to Carroll for a Frontier Conference opener.

In four months, the coaches preseason Top 25 poll will be released.

This week, both of those teams figured prominently in the spring poll.

Southern Oregon, which earned 10 of the 11 first-place votes, earned the No. 1 ranking, while Carroll sits in fifth.

Second-ranked Marian (Ind.) earned the other first-place vote. Morningside (Iowa) and Saint Xavier (Ill.) occupy the No. 3 and No. 4 spots.

The defending Frontier Conference champion Saints took the No. 1 ranking into last year's playoffs before being upset 45-42 by No. 8 Southern Oregon at Nelson Stadium in the second week of the playoffs. Carroll's only two losses last season came at the Hands of SOU.

The only other Frontier Conference team to crack the poll, Eastern Oregon, is ranked No. 13. Montana Western received votes.

Carroll is looking to fill holes left by all-American running back Dustin Rinker and linebacker Sean Blomquist, but returns 15 players who earned time as a starter a year ago. SOU has the chore of replacing the National Player of the Year in quarterback Austin Dodge, who rallied the Raiders from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to eliminate Carroll.

Carroll's final spring scrimmage is set for 4 p.m. Friday at Nelson Stadium. SOU, which just started its spring practices, won't have a spring game until May 1.

SAINTS SOFTBALL ON FIRE

After playing the University of Great Falls eight straight games in a two-week stretch, the Carroll College softball team embraced the unfamiliarity that came with Walla Walla University.

The Saints embraced the lopsided results even more.

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Carroll dominated the four-game series in Walla Walla over the weekend, outscoring the Wolves 49-5, stretching its win streak to five games. The Saints started the recent trend by downing UGF 15-13.

Megan Gipe tossed a pair of shutouts in that stretch, and slugger Allison Bayer tallied 14 RBIs in the series.

Carroll takes on a fellow first-year program in the University of Montana on Thursday at the Grizzly Softball Complex in Missoula. The doubleheader begins at 2 p.m.

MEE LEADS SAINTS GOLF

The Carroll College men's and women's golf teams each finished fourth at the Westminster Invitational in Salt Lake City, which featured teams from the Frontier Conference.

Jackie Mee paced the Carroll women, shooting a six-round score of 474 for third place. Colin Gunstream led Carroll's men, taking sixth place with a nine-round score of 678.

Both teams will be in action at the Frontier Conference championships in Phoenix on April 28.

Ryan Collingwood is on Twitter @RwCollingwood and can be reached at ryan.collingwood@helenair.com 

 

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