AUSTIN, Texas – Like an early-morning breeze, the St. Mary’s offense provided some early relief Thursday.

Sparked by a three-run second inning and a sparkling defensive performance, the Rattlers’ softball team opened up the Heartland Conference Tournament with a 3-0 victory over Texas-Permian Basin at St. Edward’s.

The Rattlers (33-17), the top seed in the tournament, moved on to play No. 2 seed St. Edward’s, which topped Texas A&M International on Thursday in the double elimination tournament. With a win, St. Mary’s would advance to Saturday’s championship game. A loss would leave the Rattlers in need of winning their way back into the tournament Friday afternoon following their tilt with St. Edward’s.

Sarah Perez (Jr., San Marcos, Texas) got the scoring started with a single up the middle that drove in Caroline Flores (Sr., San Antonio), who was pinch-running for Christina Rodriguez (Jr., San Antonio), and Shelly Lee (Jr., San Antonio).

Moments later, a Katie Nichols (Jr., San Marcos, Texas) single to left field made it 3-0 – all the wiggle room ace Emily Brittain needed in the circle.

Brittain (So., Corpus Christi, Texas) improved to 16-3 with the win, striking out one batter and scattering seven hits in a complete-game shutout.

The Rattlers move on to play St. Edward’s, whom St. Mary’s swept on the road last weekend by a combined score of 27-6 to take the Heartland Conference regular-season crown.

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