San Antonio – Malissa Magee won her school record 36th game of the season and a three-run fourth inning was the difference as 15th-ranked St. Mary’s University defeated St. Edward’s University, 4-2, to win the 2008 Heartland Conference Tournament Championship, played Saturday afternoon at Rattler Field.
Magee (Sr., Katy) allowed two runs on eight hits, while striking out five in the complete game victory. She is now 36-6 this season, breaking the school record of 35 wins, previously held by Kym Kling.
St. Edward’s took the early lead off Magee. With one out Mandy Phillips doubled to left and one out later Kristin Lozano singled to center, allowing Phillips to score. That was where things stood for the first three innings as Hilltopper starter Robin Becker limited the Rattlers to three base runners. But things unraveled for Becker and SEU in the fourth inning.
Lindsay Barnes (Sr., San Antonio) singled to lead off and pinch-runner Alyssa Alfaro (Fr., Eagle Pass) moved to second when Kelcy Walker (Sr., San Antonio) laid down a sacrifice bunt that was thrown into centerfield by Melissa McSheffery. Lia Provence (Fr., Bastrop) then tied the game when she smacked a ball down the third base line and Alfaro beat out the throw home. Still with no outs in the inning Kelly Baker (Fr., Arlington) followed with a single to center, scoring Walker with the go-ahead run. That chased Becker from the game as Hilltopper head coach Amy Coulter brought in Diana Cezeaux to pitch. But one out later Sarah Cooper (Sr., Houston) made it a 3-1 lead with an RBI single.
From there Magee and the Rattler defense took over. In the bottom of the inning the Hilltoppers looked to get a run back. Lozano singled to right and Karen Varteressian was hit by a pitch to put two runners on and no out. Courtney Lavender then grounded out to put runners on first and third with one out. That brought up Stacy Giles, who hit a ground ball to Sade Moore (Jr., Angleton). Moore looked Lozano back, and then fired on to first. But as soon as Moore threw the ball, Lozano took off for home plate and Barnes fired home to Baker, who tagged out Lozano for the inning-ending double play.
One inning later Mandy Phillips hit a two-out single to center that allowed Lexi Stephens to advance to third. Stephens then took off for home, but the throw from Lauren Miller (Fr., Baytown) was on target and Baker tagged out Stephens for the third out of the inning.
In the seventh inning the Rattlers expanded their lead. Moore struck out, but reached when the pitch couldn’t by handled by Lavender. Another wild pitch sent Moore to second and she moved to third on a single by Mary K Pederson (Sr., Houston). Arlynda Flores (So., Uvalde) brought home Moore with a ground out to short, making it 4-1.
That run would become very important in the bottom of the inning. Giles led off with a solo homerun to left to cut the Rattler lead to two at 4-2. Jamie Zilverberg then reached on an infield single. One out later Stephens hit a ground ball to Flores at second base that Flores couldn’t handle, allowing both runners to advance. Phillips moved the runners to second and third with two outs with a sacrifice bunt. But Lisa Paul grounded out to Flores, ending the threat and the game.
The tournament title is the Rattlers eighth straight. They are the only school to win the Heartland Conference softball championship. St. Mary’s is also now 25-1 all-time in Heartland Conference Tournament play.
With the win the Rattlers are now 53-10 overall and have won 17 of their last 18 games. St. Edward’s fell to 45-15 this season. Both teams will likely move on to the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament, which starts Wednesday in San Angelo.
2008 Heartland Conference Tournament
Rattler Field, San Antonio, Texas
Tournament MVP: Malissa Magee, St. Mary’s
Courtney Lavender, catcher, St. Edward’s
Stacy Giles, first base, St. Edward’s
Arlynda Flores, second base, St. Mary’s
Sade Moore, shortstop, St. Mary’s
Mary K. Pederson, third base, St. Mary’s
Lexi Stephens, outfield, St. Edward’s
Kristen Lozano, outfield, St. Edward’s
Allison Britt, outfield, Incarnate Word
Melissa Perez, utility, Incarnate Word
Sarah Cooper, utility, St. Mary’s
Robin Becker, pitcher, St. Edward’s
Diana Cezeaux, pitcher, St. Edward’s