The Rattler Softball team, the defending D-II national champions and two-time defending Heartland Conference champions, have advanced to the championship round of the Heartland Conference Tournament. The Rattlers have a 44-10 record and are ranked fourth in the nation and first in the region. The Tournament concludes Saturday at the University of the Incarnate Word.
Heartland Conference Tournament
April 25 & 26, 2003
University of the Incarnate Word
Friday, April 25:
Game 1 – #1 St. Mary’s 9, #4 Oklahoma Panhandle State 1
Game 2 – #2 St. Edward’s 5, #3 Incarnate Word 1
Game 3 – #4 Oklahoma Panhandle State 3, #3 Incarnate Word 1
Game 4 – #1 St. Mary’s 6, #2 St. Edward’s 4
Saturday, April 26:
Game 5 – 1:00 p.m. – #2 St. Edward’s vs. #4 Oklahoma Panhandle State
Game 6 – 3:30 p.m. – #1 St. Mary’s vs. Winner of G5 (Championship)
Game 7 – 6:00 p.m. – Winner of G6 plays Loser of G6 (if necessary)
Sunday, April 27, will be the rain date for the tournament.
Six teams from each of the division’s eight regions are selected for the D-II National Tournament, which opens with regional play May 8-11 and concludes with the National Championships, May 15-19 at Wallace Sports Complex in Salem, Oregon. St. Mary’s, winners of the 2001 and 2002 Heartland Conference tournaments, competed in the last two D-II National Tournaments. The Rattlers fell in the 2001 South Central regional finals and hosted – and won – the 2002 South Central regional en route to the 2002 national crown.
The Rattlers are led on the mound by 2002 All American Kym Kling. Kling, a junior pitcher from San Antonio, had a 25-2 record through the end of the regular season. Kling pitched two of the Rattlers’ no-hitters, shutting out Delta State on March 1 and Angelo State on April 15. Senior starter Amanda Bayless (16-6) and sophomore reliever Angela Hammock (1-1) combined for a no-hitter against St. Edward’s on April 19. Kling has a 0.93 ERA while conceeding a .193 batting average. Bayless has a 1.70 ERA but has a lower opponents’ batting average of .180. Kling and Bayless have the most victories of all Heartland Conference pitchers. And Bayless and Kling, in that order, are the run-away conference leaders in overall strikeouts and batters struckout looking.
Kling also leads St. Mary’s at the plate, hitting for a .409 average, 100 points above the team average. She leads the team in doubles (20), RBIs (44), total bases (103), slugging percentage (.669) and on-base percentage (.511) She also has drawn the most walks (27) and been hit by the most pitches (5) while having the fewest strike-outs of the day-to-day players (5). Tiffani Craft, a freshman shortstop from Alvin, leads the Rattlers in hits with 66 – three more than Kling – while also leading in at bats (169), runs (42) and stolen bases (35 of 37 attempts). Sophomore Roni Garcia, a third baseman from San Antonio, leads the team with nine homeruns while junior outfielder Pam Salinas leads with two triples.
One-third of the Rattlers’ wins this season have been shutout victories. Eight of their wins have come via the eight-run rule – including six of their last ten games. St. Mary’s outscored its opponents 72-19 during those last ten games.
As of the most recent national statistics report, issued on April 13, Kling’s then-21 victories were tied for third-best in the division. At the plate Kling was ranked 11th in doubles per game and on the mound was ranked 41st in earned run average. Rattler strikeout leader Bayless was ranked 16th in strikeout per seven innings, averaging 8.7 per game at the time. Bayless has since has improved her strikeout figure to 8.8 per seving innings.
Following the final week of the regular season Kling was named the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association national player of the week and became the first player to be named the Heartland Conference pitcher of the week and hitter of the week for the same week.