San Antonio – Emily Brittain has surprised even herself this season, shutting down some of the nation’s most potent offenses in this, her first season of collegiate softball.

The St. Mary’s freshman ace credits her improved confidence for the surge, but then it’d be impossible for her not to be confident considering the way she’s pitching.

“I just play my game,” she said. “It really surprises me how good I’ve done so far. I’m enjoying it.”

The rising star’s patience was tested Friday, when one-win Newman crushed a solo shot in the top of the first inning. But that Brittain calmly shook it off, shutting out the Jets the rest of the way in an eventual 10-1 victory, showed just how mature she is becoming.

Catcher Kelly Baker (Sr., Arlington, Texas) drove in four runs on a 2-for-2 effort as the Rattlers cruised to a five-inning, run-rule victory in the Heartland Conference opener.

“It’s really important,” said Brittain of shaking off that first inning. “That’s the first inning. You have six more. I knew our hitters would come back and help me out.”

Brittain lasted four innings, striking out four and giving up just three hits, while also catching fire in her return to the batting lineup. She improved to 12-5 on the season. Brittain drove in three runs and scored a run on a 1-for-2 outing.

First baseman Jared Gonzalez (So., San Antonio) and shortstop Richelle Morales (Jr., San Antonio) also drove in one run apiece.

St. Mary’s improved to 16-12 and 1-0 in conference play.

Moments after St. Mary’s fell behind 1-0, Baker drove in a pair of runs with a triple that put St. Mary’s ahead 2-1.

The Rattlers then blew open the game with a six-run, six-hit third inning. Gonzalez and Baker both had RBI singles, while Brittain followed with a three-RBI triple before Morales grounded out to drive in the final run of the inning.

St. Mary’s will wrap up its three-game series against Newman with a doubleheader that begins at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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