Kaitlyn Krol and Amanda McIlhany hit home runs for UW-Oshkosh, but UW-Whitewater reclaimed the lead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and held on for a 6-5 win over in the final game of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Softball Championship (presented by Culver's) on Sunday (May 6) in Whitewater.
Nicole Nietzel hit a two-run single to give the Warhawks the lead for good at 5-4 in the fifth frame. Michelle Birkholz then drove home the eventual game-winning run with a two-out single.
UW-Whitewater (25-11-1), seeded first at the WIAC Championship, clinched its sixth consecutive league postseason title. The Warhawks earn the conference's automatic berth to the 62-team NCAA Division III Championship that begins Thursday (May 10).
UW-Oshkosh (25-12) will learn Monday (May 7) during an online selection show whether it receives one of 19 at-large berths to the national tournament for the second straight year. The online selection show begins at noon on ncaa.com.
UW-Whitewater outhit the Titans, 10-8, and did not commit an error while UW-Oshkosh had two miscues that led to two unearned runs. The Warhawks won each of their four meetings with UW-Oshkosh by one run.
Neitzel and Molly Ethington had two hits apiece for UW-Whitewater.
Warhawks relief pitcher Dani Diesiada (2-1) picked up the win after limiting the Titans to one run and one hit in 2.1 innings.
Krol's two-out, two-run single in the top of the third inning provided the Titans a 2-1 advantage. McIlhany led off the fourth frame with a home run to center field that extended UW-Oshkosh lead to 3-1.
UW-Whitewater, which took a 1-0 lead on a two-out double from Emily Rux in the home half of the first inning, knotted the score at 3 in the fourth frame with a pair of unearned runs thanks to two UW-Oshkosh errors.
Krol hit a solo home run in the fifth inning for a 4-3 Titan advantage. The UW-Oshkosh home runs were McIlhany's team high-tying fourth of the year and Krol's third. Krol, McIlhany and Acacia Tupa each accounted for two of the Titans' eight hits.
Bailey Smaney (10-3) suffered the loss for UW-Oshkosh, yielding five runs (three earned) on nine hits in five innings of relief.
UW-Oshkosh was seeking its second WIAC Championship title and first since 2008.
UW-Whitewater, which improved to 12-0 at home this season, has won 58 of its last 69 games at van Steenderen Softball Complex.
The Titans and Warhawks also met in the final game of the conference tournament in 1996 and 1999. UW-Whitewater secured the 1996 championship by a 6-4 score and prevailed, 2-1, in the 1999 final.