San Antonio – The Rattlers came out swinging, ready to pound cross-town rival Incarnate Word on Saturday. And that they did.
The defending Heartland Conference champions of the St. Mary’s (2-3) softball team had a powerful start to Saturday’s game in a statement-making, eight-run first inning that would take it all the way to the end, staving off a fierce UIW rally to win 8-7 on the final day of the Incarnate Word Invitational.
The Cardinals (4-1) experienced their first loss of the season thanks to the Rattlers, being strong-armed in the first with the entire Rattler lineup at bat and starting over again at the first batter of day, Shelly Lee Zawadzki (Jr., San Antonio).
Earlier in the day, St. Mary’s fell to Emporia State 6-0 after taking them to extra innings in a defeat the day before.
Against UIW, Zawadzki started the lineup with a single, advancing to third by a series of walks and illegal pitches, allowing her to score off a liner to right field from Jared Gonzalez (Jr., San Antonio).
Ashley Behabetz (So., Littleton, Colo.) and Katie Nichols (Jr., San Marcos, Texas) racked up RBIs as well before the top of the lineup started once more with Zawadzki smashing another single to bring Sarah Perez (Jr., San Marcos, Texas) home. Newcomers Nicole Sardelich (Fr., Angleton, Texas) and Taylor Vidrine (Fr., San Antonio) earned an RBI apiece to end the eventful inning, 8-0.
The Cardinals responded with three runs in the third and fifth innings, but it wasn’t enough to topple the Rattlers, as they fell 8-7.
The exhibit of St. Mary’s (2-3 overall) strength at the plate allowed only three strikeouts for the day while the Rattler aces picked up eight strikeouts, six from Emily Brittain (So., Corpus Christi, Texas) in 4.1 innings and two from Maricela Bissaro (So., San Antonio) over 2.2 innings for her first win of the season.
The showcase of St. Mary’s ability on the field Saturday had remnants of last season in which they won the Heartland Conference championship after a shaky 1-3 start of the season.
The Rattlers take on their first doubleheader of the season Tuesday against Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. Game One is set to start at 2 p.m.