February 15, 2003
The 2002 St. Mary’s softball team received rings commemorating their NCAA Division II National Championship and unveiled their championship banner during ceremonies held in the Bill Greehey Arena on Feb. 15. The team’s coaches received rings as did several administrators and staff members from the athletics department, who were recognized for their behind the scene roles in the softball program’s success. The team also recognized the support of the St. Mary’s community as a whole by presenting a championship ring to Univeristy President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D.
The Rattlers won last year’s D-II championship with a 4-0 victory over Grand Valley State on May 20 in Salem, Va. Championship Tournament Most Valuable Player Kym Kling tossed a four-hit shutout and Pam Salinas’ RBI-single capped a two-run first inning to lead St. Mary’s to its first-ever NCAA Division II softball national championship. Kling and five other Rattlers were named to the All-Championship team: Kling, catcher Liz Hunt, infielder Natalie Hill, infielder Veronica Garcia, outfielder Tanya Medina and designated player Ashley Boedeker. Kling and Hill were both first-team All-Americans and St. Mary’s coach Donna Fields and assistant coach Jessica Peoples were named the Division II Coaching Staff of the Year.
The 2002 championship is St. Mary’s second softball national title and its fourth overall. The Rattlers won the 1986 NAIA Softball championship, the 1989 NAIA Men’s Basketball tournament and the 2001 NCAA D-II Baseball title. St. Mary’s has won four of the seven national titles won by San Antonio universities.
During the eight-team national finals, Kling posted a 4-1 record with a 0.36 earned run average, allowing only two earned runs in 39.1 innings pitched. She pitched two complete game shutouts and combined on a third at the championship. She recorded 40 strikeouts and allowed only three walks. Kling finished the season with a 33-5 record. Amanda Bayless (18-5) picked up the Rattlers other victory.
Both St. Mary’s and Grand Valley State were making their first-ever appearances in the national finals, as well as advancing to the championship game for the first time ever. The Rattlers and Lakers met three times in the finals with St. Mary’s winning two of the three games. St. Mary’s made its first appearance in the national tournament in 2001, its first year of eligibility for the D-II playoffs, falling in the regional finale.
St. Mary’s opened the finals with a 3-0 victory over LeMoyne (NY) Dolphins and defeated the Bloomsburg Huskies 2-0 in the second round. St. Mary’s then pick up its first victory over Grand Valley State, an 8-0 rout, before beating Chico State 1-0 in the semi-final round. The Lakers beat the Rattlers 1-0 in the first game of the championship round to force a second, winner-take-all championship game.
The Rattlers advanced to the national finals after hosting and winning the tournament’s South Central Regional. St. Mary’s swept through the regional with victories over Regis University and Texas Woman’s University and consecutive wins over Texas A&M Kingsville. St. Mary’s opened the playoffs with victories over St. Edward’s and Lincoln in the Heartland Conference Tournament.
Kling, Hill and Medina were named to the All-South Central Region First Team and Garcia was named to the All-South Central Region Second Team. These All-Region regular season honors are in addition to the All-South Central Regional Tournament honors received by Bayless, Boedeker, Medina, Garcia and Kling, the Regional Tournament MVP. St. Mary’s also dominated the 2002 Heartland Conference honors with Kling being named player of the year, Garcia tapped as freshman of the year, Fields selected as coach of the year, and Bayless, Hill, Jessica Jimenez, Medina, and Pamela Salinas joining them on the All-Conference team.
2003 Preseason Favorites
The Rattlers ended last season ranked #1 in the 2003 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll and have started this season ranked #1. Eight NCAA D-II head coaches representing each of the eight D-II regions vote on the NFCA D-II poll. The Rattlers faced two Top-25 teams in the opening weekend of this season when they took on #2 Barry Univ. and #22 Mesa State. Also among the Top-25 are all four of the teams that the Rattlers defeated in the 2002 national finals: Grand Valley State and Bloomsburg (Tied-3rd), Chico State (7th) and LeMoyne (15th.) Texas A&M Kingsville, who the Rattlers defeated in the national tournament’s regional finals, started the year at 16th.
St. Mary’s lost four seniors from last season’s championship team but has ten players returning. These include top players such as junior pitcher Kim Kling, junior outfielder Pam Salinas, sophomore third-baseman Roni Garcia, senior pitcher Amanda Bayless and junior catcher Liz Hunt. Kling, MVP of the 2002 Championship, was an All-American, All-Region and All-Conference selectee last season. Kling also was the MVP of the regional tournament and the conference player of the year. She was joined on the all-regional tournament team by Bayless and on the all-conference team by Salinas, Garcia and Bayless, who is the lone senior on this year’s Rattler squad. Kling, Hunt and Garcia also were named to the All-Championship Tournament Team. They will be joined by eight new players, including seven freshmen. Three of these new additions expected to play a big role this season are freshman shortstop Tiffani Craft, freshman second-baseman Jamie Bertsch and sophomore utility player Teri Moreno.
2003 Season Underway
The Rattlers (5-1) started this year’s season on the road and has its first home games, a triple-header versus Mesa State (Co.) on this Monday, Feb. 17. The first game starts at 10 am with the other two to begin at approximately noon and 2 p.m. St. Mary’s kicked off the 2003 season the Las Vegas Classic, Feb. 6-8 and played two at Texas A&M-Kingsville. In Las Vegas the National Champions started their title defense with a win. The Rattlers scored four runs in the first as All-American pitcher Kym Kling got her first win of the year. #1 St. Mary’s first loss of the year came at the hands of #2 Barry University, 9-1. St. Mary’s closed out their trip to Las Vegas with a 5-2 win over #22 Mesa State and a 15-3 pounding of the Regis Rangers, who St. Mary’s beat 2-1 in the Rattlers’ first game of the 2002 national tournament. Back in Texas, but on the road, on Feb. 11, St. Mary’s took both ends of a double header from #16 Texas A&M-Kingsville giving Kling her third victory of the season and senior pitcher Amanda Bayless her second win in three games.
A Tradition of Excellence
In addition to making two consecutive D-II national tournament appearances, the Rattlers competed in 12 NAIA national tournaments between 1982 and 1994 – including 10 in a row. They won eight-straight Big State Conference titles in 1980 to 1987, seven Heart of Texas titles – including six straight, and both of the first two Heartland Conference championships.