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Heartland Conference preseason softball poll has St. Mary’s on top

Kala Ratliff and OC's softball team will open the season Feb. 9 at Southwestern Christian.
Kala Ratliff and OC's softball team will open the season Feb. 9 at Southwestern Christian.

WACO, Texas (Jan. 21, 2013) – St. Mary’s (Texas), seeking to win at least a share of a third straight Heartland Conference softball title, has been chosen as the league’s preseason favorite.

The conference released the results of the preseason poll of league coaches and sports information directors on Monday. St. Mary’s received eight first-place votes and 68 points, while runner-up St. Edward’s received the other four first-place votes and 64 points.

St. Mary’s won last season’s Heartland regular-season title, but St. Edward’s beat the Rattlers in the conference tournament championship game and advanced to the NCAA Division II tournament. St. Edward’s reached an NCAA regional final before being eliminated.

Following St. Edward’s, Texas A&M International finished third in the conference preseason poll with 42 points, followed by Texas-Permian Basin with 36 points, Oklahoma Panhandle State with 23 points and Newman (Kan.) with 19 points.

Oklahoma Christian is a new member of the Heartland Conference and is in the first year of the NCAA Division II membership process, making the Lady Eagles ineligible for consideration in the preseason poll.

Three conference schools – Dallas Baptist (Texas), McMurry (Texas) and Arkansas-Fort Smith – do not have a softball team.

OC will open its season Feb. 9 at Southwestern Christian. The Lady Eagles’ home opener at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium complex in northeast Oklahoma City will be March 5 against Dallas (Texas).