Austin, Texas – The Heartland Conference unveiled its All-Conference Softball Team on Thursday, and the St. Mary’s Rattlers were certainly rewarded for winning the conference’s regular-season crown.

St. Mary’s (33-17) placed seven players on the First Team and two more on the Second Team, led by ace Emily Brittain (So., Corpus Christi, Texas) taking home Pitcher of the Year honors for the second straight year.

In addition, utility player Taylor Vidrine (Fr., San Antonio) was named the league’s Freshman of the Year after leading the conference with 12 home runs, while coach Donna Fields was named the Coach of the Year for the eighth time in her career.

Joining Brittain and Vidrine on the First Team were catcher Christina Rodriguez (Jr., San Antonio), first baseman Jared Gonzalez (Jr., San Antonio), third baseman Nicole Sardelich (Fr., Angleton, Texas), outfielder Katie Nichols (Jr., San Marcos, Texas) and designated player Vianna Gutierrez (Fr., San Antonio).

Shortstop Richelle Morales (Sr., San Antonio) and outfielder Shelly Lee Zawadzki (Jr., San Antonio) were named to the Second Team.

St. Mary’s led all teams in both First Team and total selections.

Brittain, who last season was also named the Freshman of the Year in addition to Pitcher of the Year, is 16-3 with a 2.40 ERA and 86 strikeouts. Vidrine, meanwhile, has followed in Brittain’s footsteps as the Freshman of the Year, hitting at a .392 clip with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs this season.

After taking last season off to focus on her scholastics, Rodriguez has returned with a fury, pelting 16 RBIs and a .289 average in 34 starts behind the plate. Gonzalez, an Honorable Mention All-American last season, is hitting .313 with 37 RBIs and eight home runs.

Sardelich, a hot-shot freshman with a golden arm at third base, has proven one of the team’s most proficient hitters, batting .363 with 22 RBIs and 16 doubles. Gutierrez, another freshman, is hitting .362 with 30 RBIs and four homers.

Few can roam centerfield quite like Nichols, whose bat has also produced a .331 average and 26 RBIs in 50 starts.

St. Mary’s is attempting to qualify for the South Central Regional Tournament for the 11th time in 12 years after having won their Heartland Conference Tournament opener on Thursday. The Rattlers face off against St. Edward’s at 10:30 a.m. Friday in Austin, Texas with a chance to advance to the championship game at stake.

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