San Antonio – Number one ranked St. Mary’s University opens play at the 2010 Heartland Conference Baseball Tournament on Friday at 1 p.m. against St. Edward’s University at the University of Texas’ Disch Falk Field.

The Rattlers (39-15 overall, 35-13 Heartland Conference) enter the tournament as the top seed and are also ranked 27th in the nation in the latest Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Poll. The Rattlers finished the season with a flourish, winning 10 of their last 11 games. Included in that run were wins in three of four games last weekend in Laredo against Texas A&M International University to clinch the Heartland Conference regular season title.

St. Edward’s (34-20, 29-18) is the fourth seed in the tournament and will be the Rattlers opening round opponent. The Hilltoppers were rolling heading into last weekend’s series against the University of the Incarnate Word, but dropped three of four games against the Cardinals. SEU had won 11 straight prior to that series. St. Mary’s won six of the seven meetings against St. Edward’s this season, including three of four in Austin.

The Rattlers are led by one of the most potent offensive attacks in the nation. St. Mary’s ranks 10th in the nation in runs scored with 482 in 54 games (8.93 per game). The Rattlers are also 13th in doubles with 607 and is 17th in batting average, with a .354 mark. St. Mary’s leads the Heartland Conference in batting average, earned run average and fielding percentage. Individually, Ryan Morrow (Jr., Bulverde, Texas) has become one of the top hitters in the Heartland Conference and the NCAA South Central Region. He is batting .377 with 13 doubles, 13 homeruns, 61 RBI and 52 runs scored. He has also drawn 53 walks this season, the second highest total in the nation. James Hipp (Sr., Uvalde, Texas) leads the team with a .392 batting average, 11 doubles, 39 RBI and 63 runs scored.

On the mound, Alfonso Maldonado (Sr., Laredo, Texas) is a candidate for Heartland Conference Pitcher of the Year with an 8-4 record and a 2.28 ERA in 14 starts. He has struck out 88 batters, against just 36 walks, in 90.2 innings of work. Opposing batters are hitting just .213 against Maldonado. Maldonado ranks 40th in the nation in earned run average and is 17th in strikeouts. Matt Holland (Jr., Shreveport, La.) ranks 10th in the nation in victories with 10 and has a 4.11 ERA in 13 starts. Sammy Rivas (Jr., San Antonio) has worked his way into the closer’s role in his first season with the Rattlers. He has a 3-1 record with four saves and a 2.61 ERA in 31.0 innings of work.

This is the first Heartland Conference Baseball Tournament since the 2004 season. The Rattlers won the 2002 tournament, defeating the University of the Incarnate Word in the championship game, 8-2. The Rattlers are 8-6 all-time in the four previous Heartland Conference Tournaments.

All St. Mary’s games at the Heartland Conference Tournament will be broadcast live over the internet. Broadcast time is five minutes prior to the scheduled start of the game.

2010 Heartland Conference Baseball Tournament Schedule
Disch-Falk Field, Austin, Texas

Friday, May 7
Game 1 – (#4) St. Edward’s vs. (#1) St. Mary’s, 1 p.m.

Game 2 – (#3) Texas-Permian Basin vs. (#2) Incarnate Word, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 8
Game 3 – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 11 a.m.
Game 4 – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 3 p.m.
Game 5 – Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 7 p.m.

Sunday, May 9
Game 6 – Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 1 p.m.
Game 7 – (if necessary) Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6, 4:30 p.m.

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