Eagles Deliver Titans A Pair Of Defeats

Natalie Dudek singled in each game against the Eagles.
Natalie Dudek singled in each game against the Eagles.

The nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh softball team suffered a pair of losses at UW-La Crosse on Monday (April 17).

UW-La Crosse (20-10, 4-2 WIAC) won the opening game, 5-0, and the second contest, 4-1. The Eagles have now won three straight games over the Titans after UW-Oshkosh claimed six of the previous eight meetings.

UW-Oshkosh (20-6, 4-2 WIAC), ranked 21st in the NCAA Division III by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, had its season-best eight-game winning streak snapped.

The Titans and Eagles are tied for third in the WIAC standings with 10 league contests remaining.

The Eagles, who entered Monday leading the WIAC with a .331 batting average and 62 stolen bases, outhit the Titans, 18-9, on the day and stole one base.

The Titans, who suffered their first shutout loss of the year during the opener, went into the doubleheader ranked third nationally with a .976 fielding percentage while also pacing the conference in runs per game (6.2), slugging percentage (.486), on-base percentage (.397) and opponent batting average (.221).

After committing just three total errors over the previous eight games, UW-Oshkosh had one miscue in both contests against UW-La Crosse. The Eagles held the Titans to one extra-base hit – a fifth-inning double during the first game – while UW-La Crosse was also limited to just one double on the day.

UW-La Crosse's Grace Mindrup concluded the day 4-for-6 at the plate with five runs batted in while Brittany Baldwin went a combined 5-for-7 with three runs, one RBI and one stolen base, and Stephanie Cole collected four hits and scored three times. Baldwin leads the WIAC with 44 hits and a .463 batting average.

In Monday's opener, UW-La Crosse starting pitcher Jessie Carignan tossed a five-hit shutout as the Titans stranded nine runners on base.

Carignan (8-2) allowed the leadoff batter to reach in each of the first four innings, but the Titans left runners in scoring position during all but the fourth and seventh frames.

UW-La Crosse supported Carignan's efforts with two runs in both the first and third innings before tacking on a single run during the fourth frame.

Mindrup delivered a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the first inning against UW-Oshkosh starting pitcher Sara Brunlieb.

The Eagles' Ashley Lindstrom and Mindrup hit consecutive run-scoring singles with one out in the third inning, and the Eagles concluded the scoring on Baldwin's infield RBI single during the fourth frame.

UW-Oshkosh's Emma Fionda led off the game with a single and reached second base on a subsequent groundout. Abby Menting followed with the first of her three walks during the opener, but Carignan recorded a strikeout to escape the first inning.

Claire Petrus hit a leadoff single for the Titans in the second inning, Erika Berry walked the begin the UW-Oshkosh third frame, Petrus walked to open the fourth inning, Menting drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, and Paige Giese had a pinch-hit single to start the seventh.

However, Carignan allowed just one Titan past second base on the way to notching her third career shutout. Carignan ended her outing with five walks and three strikeouts.

Baldwin and Cole both collected three of the Eagles' nine hits in the first contest while Mindrup drove in three runs.

Brunlieb (7-3) suffered the loss in the pitcher's circle for UW-Oshkosh after yielding four runs on seven hits in three innings pitched.

Clare Robbe, who relieved Brunlieb to open the fourth frame, gave up an unearned run on two hits in three innings pitched. Robbe leads the conference with a .196 opponent batting average and 0.34 walks per seven innings.

In Monday's nightcap, Eagles starting pitcher Caitlyn Hughes lost her bid for a no-hitter in the fifth inning, and UW-La Crosse reliever Katie Klein earned her Division-III-record 25th career save with a scoreless seventh frame.

The Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning on a two-out hit by Kathryn Vander Schaaf. Mindrup then extended the UW-La Crosse advantage to 3-0 with a one-out, two-run single in the home half of the third frame.

Hughes was pitching a perfect game until she walked Fionda to begin the fourth inning. Fionda advanced to second base on a groundout and scored on a two-out fielding error to trim the UW-Oshkosh deficit to 3-1.

UW-La Crosse added an insurance run in the fourth inning when pinch runner Megan Andes scored on a wild pitch with two outs.

Petrus registered the Titans' initial hit off Hughes with a leadoff single in the fifth inning. Petrus was caught attempting to steal second base, and Hughes retired five of the last six batters she faced.

UW-Oshkosh's Kaitlyn Krol and Natalie Dudek collected singles against Klein in the top of the seventh inning, but pinch runner Tanya Hammitt was thrown attempting to steal second base for the first out.

Klein, who also leads the country with six saves this season, then set down the final two Titans of the game on a strikeout and a popup to secure the doubleheader sweep.

Hughes (7-4) held UW-Oshkosh to just two hits across her six innings of work. She struck out six and issued one walk.

UW-Oshkosh starting pitcher Bailey Smaney (4-1) was charged with her first loss as a Titan, allowing four runs on seven hits in three-plus innings.

Petrus, who relieved Smaney with no outs and a runner at second base in the fourth inning, tossed the final three frames for UW-Oshkosh in scoreless fashion. She ceded just two hits and recorded two strikeouts.

Petrus, who lists second in the WIAC with four saves on the year, lowered her league-leading earned run average to 0.24 in 29.1 innings pitched this season.

UW-Oshkosh returns home to host Carthage College for a doubleheader on Thursday (April 20).

Photo by Jim Lund