San Antonio – St. Mary’s University received the third seed in the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament and will face Western New Mexico University in the first round of the tournament, set to start on Thursday at 4 p.m., it was announced by the NCAA this week.

The Rattlers (42-16 overall) enter the tournament red-hot, coming off a Heartland Conference Tournament title and wins in 17 of their last 19 games. The Rattlers have not faced WNMU so far this season, though the two teams played six times last season, when Western New Mexico was a member of the Heartland Conference. The Mustangs are 35-18-1 overall and have won 15 of their last 18 games.

St. Mary’s has a 16-6 all-time record at the South Central Region Tournament and has moved on to the NCAA Championship three times in their six trips to the regional. This year will mark the seventh straight year they have advanced to the tournament, the longest current streak of any school in the region.  The Rattlers have won at least one game in all six previous trips to the regional, including tournament titles in 2002, 2003 and 2005. Last season they advanced to the semifinals before falling to the University of the Incarnate Word.

St. Mary’s is led on the mound by Malissa Magee (Jr., Houston), who sports a 27-8 record and a 0.68 ERA this season. She has tossed a school record 15 shutouts and has 263 strikeouts against just 39 walks in 226.0 innings of work. She was named Heartland Conference Pitcher of the Year for the third straight season recently.

At the plate the Rattlers feature a pair of the most powerful hitters in the Heartland Conference and the South Central Region. Kelcy Walker (Jr., San Antonio) leads the team with a .396 batting average, 10 homeruns, 46 RBI and 49 runs scored. Lindsay Barnes (Jr., San Antonio) has also shown a lot of power at the plate this season, hitting .353 with 15 homeruns and 56 RBI. Both players were named first team All-Heartland Conference this season.

Midwestern State University is the top seed in the tournament and will face #8 seed Texas A&M University-Kingsville at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. Host Angelo State University will be the #2 seed and will face #7 seed Northeastern State University at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. The other first round game will be between #4 seed St. Edward’s University and #5 seed Tarleton State University at 11 a.m.

The winner of the St. Mary’s-WNMU game will face the winner of the Angelo State-Northeastern State game that will also take place Thursday. The tournament will run from Thursday through Monday. On the line is a berth to the NCAA Division II Championships, which will be held in Akron, Ohio, on May 17-21.

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