The nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh softball team split a pair of games to open the 2019 season Saturday (Feb. 23) at the RCTC Dome in Rochester, Minn.
UW-Oshkosh (1-1), ranked 20th in the NCAA Division III by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, won its season opener, 8-0 in six innings, over Buena Vista University (Iowa) behind a five-hit shutout by Bailey Smaney. The Titans finished the day with a 9-1 setback in five innings to seventh-ranked University of St. Thomas (Minn.).
In the season-opening triumph, UW-Oshkosh scored an unearned run in the bottom of the second inning, added a single run in the third and four more in fourth before walking off with the win following a one-out, two-run double from Natalie Dudek in the sixth frame.
Smaney pitched around five hits and five walks while striking out three batters. Smaney, who improved her career record to 19-5 in three seasons with the Titans, worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning and stranded two baserunners in both the first and fourth frames as Buena Vista University left nine runners on base.
UW-Oshkosh produced 11 hits, including two each from Kaitlyn Krol, Abby Menting and Claire Petrus, as the top seven spots in the Titans' batting order combined to go 10-for-21 at the plate. Dudek and Petrus both drove in a pair of runs.
The Titans provided Smaney the only run she needed in the home half of the second inning, when Dudek drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Amanda McIlhany and came around to score on a two-out infield error.
Buena Vista University (0-1) got back-to-back singles from Kayden Archibeque and Carlee Guyett to open up the top of the third inning. Smaney struck out the next Beaver batter and induced a groundout before issuing a walk to load the bases with two outs. Smaney then struck out Brook Linderman looking to thwart the scoring chance.
UW-Oshkosh upped its lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning on Krol's one-out double that plated pinch-runner Natalie Dillon from second base. Dillon ran for Menting, who led off the inning with a single.
Buena Vista University threatened to score once again in the fourth inning as Mckynze Hansen smacked a leadoff double – the Beavers' lone extra-base hit of the game – and went to third base on a sacrifice bunt. However, the Titans snuffed out a suicide squeeze attempt as Smaney fielded the bunt and tossed the ball to Menting behind the plate, and Hansen was eventually retired following a short rundown. After a walk to the next Beaver batter, Smaney preserved the shutout by inducing a groundout with two runners aboard.
UW-Oshkosh carried the momentum into the bottom of the fourth inning, when the Titans tacked on four runs on five hits and one Buena Vista University error. Emma Fionda sparked the big inning with a single before scoring on Menting's single with no outs and the bases loaded. Petrus followed with a two-run single, and McIlhany gave the Titans a 6-0 advantage with a one-out single that scored Menting.
The Beavers went on to leave one runner on base in both the fifth and sixth innings as Smaney recorded key strikeouts during both frames.
UW-Oshkosh then ended the game via the eight-run rule with three straight hits in the bottom of the sixth inning. Petrus led off the frame with a single ahead of consecutive doubles by Krol and Dudek. Pinch-runners Chloe Lambie and Gabby Buikema both came in to score on Dudek's two-base hit.
Buena Vista University starting pitcher Marissa Promes was charged with the loss, allowing six runs (three earned) on eight hits and one walk in 3.2 innings.
Guyett had two of the Beavers' five hits.
In the nightcap, University of St. Thomas narrowly outhit the Titans, 7-5, but UW-Oshkosh left six runners on base, including three in scoring position. The Tommies held a 6-0 lead after three innings and ended the game with a three-run bottom of the fifth frame.
Kierstin Anderson-Glass earned the victory for the Tommies after yielding one run on five hits in four innings pitched.
University of St. Thomas' Chase Shortly went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two runs batted in. Melissa Barry added two hits and two RBIs for the Tommies.
Menting and Acacia Tupa both had doubles for the Titans.
Petrus suffered the loss for UW-Oshkosh, surrendering five runs on five hits and two walks in 2.1 innings pitched.
University of St. Thomas (2-0) scored twice in the first inning on a Barry RBI single and a sacrifice fly from Jenna Beeso that turned out to be the eventual game-winning run.
UW-Oshkosh cut its deficit to 6-1 in the top of the fourth inning following a two-out, run-scoring single by Grace Stevens.
Tupa drew a leadoff walk to open the Titans' fifth inning, but University of St. Thomas relief pitcher Megan Baniecke set down the next three UW-Oshkosh batters, and the Tommies ended the contest with three runs on just one hit in the bottom of the frame. The University of St. Thomas loaded the bases on a double and a pair of walks. Another walk forced in a run, and two straight groundouts concluded the game.
The Titans have won each of their last three meetings with Buena Vista University by a combined 22-1 score. University of St. Thomas extended its winning streak to five games over the Titans, including a 7-3 decision at the 2018 St. Paul (Minn.) Regional.
UW-Oshkosh concludes its trip to the Gopher State on Sunday (Feb. 24) with games against Minnesota schools Gustavus Adolphus College and Hamline University in the RCTC Dome.