San Antonio – Opening day for the Rattlers is rapidly approaching – and St. Mary’s has already gained a boost.

The defending South Central Regional Champions have given D2 Baseball News enough reasons to rank St. Mary’s as No. 1 in their Top 25 Preseason Poll, announced today.

The Rattlers, whose national ranking is believed to be their best to start a season, also earned the No. 5 spot in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s preseason poll following last summer’s run to the College World Series.

The Rattlers’ predicted success this season banks on their stellar pitching staff, which last season claimed the nation’s best team ERA. Returning aces Carl O’Neal (Sr., San Antonio), who claimed National, Regional and Conference Pitcher of the Year honors, and Rene Solis (Jr., San Antonio), who was an All-American and All-South Central Region Second Team selectee and a finalist for the Tino Martinez Award, are at the forefront of the Rattlers’ potential threats this season. Star closer Jonathan Perez (RS-Sr., San Antonio) also returns after leading the nation in saves last season.

In addition, the return of Billy Richard (RS-Sr., Schertz, Texas) figures to power the Rattlers’ force at the plate in the upcoming season as last year’s leadoff man quickly become St. Mary’s best hitter with a team-high .354 batting average, earning him several First Team selections, including two All-South Central Region selections.

The 2012 season marked the second time in program history the Rattlers advanced to the NCAA D-II College World Series, both under head coach Charlie Migl, with 2013 hoping to reencounter last season’s success that had St. Mary’s ranked No. 1 in nation throughout the season.

New players and seasoned, returning Rattlers will have their fill this season matching their own expectations as well as the predictions of the Heartland Conference, who’s own preseason poll will be announced in late January.

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