San Antonio – Kelly Baker’s three-run homerun in the bottom of the second helped ninth-ranked St. Mary’s University rally for a 7-6 win over the University of the Incarnate Word and gave the Rattlers a split of the Heartland Conference softball doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Rattler Field.
The Rattlers took an early lead in the second game of the doubleheader, but UIW scored three unanswered runs to take a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. Pitcher Amanda Sparks came on in relief in the third inning and retired 10 of the first 11 batters she faced, including the first two in the sixth. But with two outs the Rattlers started to rally. Lia Provence (Fr., Bastrop) walked and Nikki Flores (Jr., Friendswood) followed with a single to left. That brought up Baker (Fr., Arlington), who smashed her sixth homerun of the season to dead center, giving the Rattlers a one-run lead.
Malissa Magee (Sr., Katy), who had come on in relief in the sixth inning, retired the Cardinals in the seventh to pick up her 33rd win of the season. Sparks fell to 5-9 with the loss.
In the first game Magee was nearly perfect, but four errors over the last two innings sent the Rattlers to the loss. St. Mary’s took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Sarah Cooper (Sr., Houston) smacked a double to right-center that scored Flores. However, the next inning the Cardinals rallied. With one out Allison Britt singled to center. Stacey Smitham laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the throw to first sailed high, allowing both runners to advance. An error on the return throw allowed Britt to score the tying run. Another error allowed Smitham to score the go-ahead run.
The Rattlers tied the game in the bottom of the sixth when Cooper drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded. However, the Rattlers left the bases loaded, among the eight they left on base in the game. In the seventh another error helped UIW to the win. Cece Duron singled to left and Michelle Luna reached on an error. A suicide squeeze bunt by Britt brought home Duron with the go-ahead run and Patty Madera hit a sacrifice fly to score Luna.
Magee allowed just three hits and two walks, while striking out seven, but suffered her sixth loss of the season. Perez improved to 17-6 with the win.
With the split the Rattlers saw their 13-game win streak end, but are now 50-10 overall and 26-2 in Heartland Conference play. UIW is now 30-24, 19-9. St. Mary’s will return to action on Thursday in the first round of the Heartland Conference Tournament, which will be played at Rattler Field.