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Titans Begin Florida Trip With A Pair Of Wins

Erika Berry fires to first base.
Erika Berry fires to first base.

Erika Berry had six total hits, including two doubles and a home run, to lead the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh softball team to a pair of victories Sunday (March 18) in Clermont, Fla.

UW-Oshkosh (9-3), ranked 25th in the NCAA Division III by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, held on for a 3-2 win over Clarkson University (N.Y.) before downing Worcester State University (Mass.) by a 9-2 score. The contests began a 10-game schedule for the Titans in Florida.

Berry went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two runs and a stolen base against Clarkson University. She then had three hits in five at-bats against Worcester State University, including a solo homer that extended the Titan lead to 7-0 in the fourth inning.

In the victory over Clarkson University, Titans starting pitcher Claire Petrus went the distance, scattering seven hits and allowing two runs (one earned).

Petrus, who struck out three and walked two Sunday, improved her record to 6-0 on the year and 12-1 in her career.

Petrus allowed the first two Golden Knights to reach via a walk and a bunt-single in the top of the first inning, but Titans catcher Abby Menting picked off a runner at second base for the first out before Petrus escaped the frame unscathed on a lineout to shortstop Natalie Dudek, who fired to Kaitlyn Krol to double off the runner at first. UW-Oshkosh went into the day fourth in the country with 0.80 double plays per game.

Berry led off the home half of the first inning with a single. She stole second base, advanced to third with two outs on a grounder and scored on a wild pitch to give the Titans a 1-0 lead.

Petrus pitched around a walk and a single once again in the second inning, but Clarkson University knotted the score at 1 in the third frame on a two-out, run-scoring single by Summer Lancette.

UW-Oshkosh reclaimed the lead for good with two runs on three hits in the bottom of the third inning. Berry sparked the rally with a leadoff double. Natalie Dillon followed with a single, and Menting plated Berry with the go-ahead run on a suicide squeeze. Carly Szada later drove in the eventual game-winning run with a two-out infield single with the bases loaded.

Clarkson University (1-8) stranded two baserunners in the fourth inning and one more in the fifth frame before Petrus set down the Golden Knights in order during the sixth.

The Golden Knights cut their deficit to 3-2 in the top of the seventh inning with a run on a two-out throwing error, but Petrus induced a flyout to conclude the game.

UW-Oshkosh collected a season-high five stolen bases, marking the program's most steals since also registering five in an 8-1 win over Bowdoin College (Maine) on March 22, 2016.

Acacia Tupa had a triple among the Titans' eight hits.

Lancette went 3-for-3 with a double to pace the Golden Knights.

Starting pitcher Maggie Stark (0-4) suffered the loss in the pitcher's circle for Clarkson University, yielding three runs on five hits and one walk in three innings.

Golden Knights relief pitcher Leah Allen allowed three hits in three scoreless frames.

In the win over Worcester State University, the Titans jumped out to a 7-0 lead and added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning.

UW-Oshkosh pounded out 11 hits, including three apiece by Berry and Kailee Garstecki, while three Titan pitchers combined to limit Worcester State University to six hits – all singles.

The Titans jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning on a one-out, run-scoring single from Garstecki and a sacrifice fly by Brianna Witter.

UW-Oshkosh tacked on four runs in the third inning as Dudek lifted a sacrifice fly, Tupa laced a two-run double and Garstecki extended the Titan lead to 6-0 with a single that plated Tupa.

Dillon, making her first career start in the pitcher's circle for UW-Oshkosh, surrendered her first hit with two outs in the third inning. Berry then crushed a leadoff home run to left field in the fourth inning for a 7-0 advantage.

Worcester State University (0-2) denied Dillon the chance at her first collegiate victory by scoring a pair of runs in the fourth inning as the first four Lancers reached base, including consecutive run-scoring hits by Katie Polselli and Rachel Frisch that ended Dillon's outing.

Krol relieved Dillon and thwarted the rally by getting a double play groundout against the first batter she faced and retiring the next Lancer batter on a grounder to first base.

Krol (1-1) went on to pitch three scoreless innings to pick up her first win of the year and the second of her career. She held Worcester State University to a pair of singles.

UW-Oshkosh tacked on two runs in the seventh inning as Berry had an RBI single, and pinch-runner Katie Fontanetta came around to score the Titans' ninth run on a two-out throwing error.

Worcester State University starting pitcher Dakota Smith-Porter (0-1) suffered the loss, yielding seven runs (three earned) on seven hits and four walks in three innings.

UW-Oshkosh continues its trip to Florida with games against Manchester University (Ind.) and fourth-ranked Williams College (Mass.) on Monday.

Photo by Paul Fionda