San Antonio – The Heartland Conference softball regular season title will likely be on the line this Friday and Saturday when the 20th-ranked St. Mary’s University Rattlers and the St. Edward’s University Hilltoppers play a four-game series. The teams will play a doubleheader on Friday at 5 p.m. at Rattler Field in San Antonio, and then head north to play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Austin.
St. Mary’s, currently ranked 20th in the nation, has won five in a row and is 33-7 overall, 12-0 in Heartland Conference play. St. Edward’s is 30-8 overall and has won 23 of its last 26 games, including the last 10 in a row. They are 14-0 in Heartland Conference play. With both teams undefeated, something has to give this weekend.
“There’s a lot of things that should get both teams fired up,” St. Mary’s coach Donna Fields said. “You have the undefeated records for both teams and with St. Edward’s winning the regular season title the last two years. You also have the fact that we’re both fighting for one of the top seeds in the regional tournament this year.”
“Our last few weeks we’ve been getting everyone back (from injury) and our lineup is starting to get more consistent. It’s just a matter of us getting out and putting some timely hits together. Now it’s time to make that adjustment. You have to go out there and put the pressure on them. I think our pitchers are where they need to be to limit their scoring. We are just going to have to score. We can’t go into the game thinking that scoring one or two runs will be enough. We’re going to have to score more than that.”
The Rattlers have the top hitting team in the Heartland Conference with a .339 average, 28 homeruns and 255 runs scored. They have more than double the homeruns of any other team in the conference and are averaging more than a run per game higher than any other team in the conference (6.4). The Hilltoppers are hitting .328 with 197 runs scored. SEU has the best ERA in the Heartland Conference with a 1.61 average this season. The Rattlers are next with a 1.75 ERA and have struck out 277 batters in 256.0 innings, easily the best in the conference.
Leading the way for the Rattlers on the mound is Malissa Magee (Sr., Katy), who is 22-4 with a 1.57 ERA, 18 complete games, nine shutouts and 201 strikeouts in 155.2 innings this season. In her career Magee is 8-3 against St. Edward’s with a 1.27 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 77.0 innings of work. Taryn Munoz (So., Bulverde) is 10-2 this season with a Heartland Conference best 1.44 ERA, six complete games and four shutouts in 72.2 innings this season.
At the plate Sade Moore (Jr., Angleton) is having a breakout season, hitting .450 with 38 runs scored and 25 stolen bases. After sitting out two weeks with an injury Lindsay Barnes (Sr., San Antonio) has been red-hot since returning and is hitting .418 with four homeruns, 25 RBI and 12 runs scored.
The Rattlers hold a 42-27 edge in the all-time series between the teams since 1995. St. Mary’s has won 23 of the last 29 meetings, including the last four in a row. St. Mary’s leads the series in San Antonio, 21-11 and have won the last three in a row. The Rattlers defeated the Hilltoppers by a combined 13-1 in two games at the Heartland Conference Tournament to win the tournament title, and then defeated SEU 4-1 at the NCAA South Central Region Tournament a week later.