San Antonio – The St. Mary’s University baseball and softball teams were each picked to finish second in the Heartland Conference in a preseason poll of coaches and sports information directors, it was announced by the conference office recently.
In the baseball poll, the Rattlers were edged out by 2006 Heartland champs the University of the Incarnate Word by just one point, 16-17. St. Edward’s University was third with 20 points, Montana State University-Billings was fourth with 31 points, Lincoln University was fifth with 40 and Oklahoma Panhandle State was sixth with 44.
In 2006 the Rattlers finished third in a very tightly contested Heartland Conference race. The Rattlers had a 36-18 overall record and 28-12 mark in the HC, just two games out of first place. St. Mary’s returns eight field starters from that squad, along with their top two starting pitchers. The Rattlers were also picked preseason 24th in the nation by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Rattler outfielder Michael Brzezinski (So., Helotes) was named preseason player of the year. In 2006 he led the Heartland with a .405 batting average as a freshman. He also ranked top 10 in the conference in runs scored, triples, stolen bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. For his play last season he was named Heartland Freshman of the Year and All-Region.
In the softball poll St. Mary’s tied for second with 25 points. Incarnate Word, the 2006 champion was again the pick with 20 points, while St. Edward’s tied the Rattlers with 25 points. Montana State-Billings was a distant fourth with 43 points, Oklahoma Panhandle State was fifth with 57 and Lincoln was sixth with 61.
St. Mary’s finished 49-25 overall and placed fourth in the Heartland regular season race in 2006, but made a strong postseason run, finishing third at the NCAA Division II South Central Region Championships, just missing out on another trip to the NCAA Championships.
Pitcher Malissa Magee (Jr., Houston) was named Heartland Preseason Pitcher of the Year in the poll. Magee has already been named conference Pitcher of the Year each of the last two years. Last year she was 29-11 with a 1.34 ERA and 272 strikeouts, leading the conference in nearly every statistical category.
The softball team (9-2 overall) will return to action on Friday and Saturday when they travel to Wichita Falls to compete in the Mustang Invitational. The baseball squad (2-2) is back on the field Friday when they open Heartland Conference play against Lincoln at V.J. Keefe Memorial Stadium in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m.