San Antonio – Having already tallied a No. 1 national preseason rank from D2 Baseball News, the St. Mary’s baseball team now has its place atop another prediction, as it has been selected the preseason favorite for the Heartland Conference, the league announced today.
Receiving all 14 first-places votes from the conference’s head coaches and sports information directors, the Rattlers topped the list with 98 total votes. The squad will be gunning for their fourth straight Heartland Conference championship in the 2013 season after a memorable year last season.
After being crowned the conference and South Central Regional champions last season, the Rattlers advanced to the NCAA Division II National Tournament for the second time in the program’s history. The Rattlers were eliminated in third round of the fight for the national title and hopes to return this season, with several players from the national tournament team returning to play in 2013, including All-American pitchers Carl O’Neal (Sr., San Antonio) and Rene Solis (Jr., San Antonio).
Rival St. Edward’s University, who advanced to the regional tournament last season with a bid, locked in second place with 83 votes in what should be a stacked Heartland Conference. The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith and Newman University received third- and- fourth-place ranks, rounding out the top four teams ranked. All four schools made last year’s Heartland Conference Tournament.
The Rattlers open their season Fri., Feb. 1 against Newman University at Wolff Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.