Titans Open Leadoff Classic With Mixed Results

Amanda McIlhany went 3-for-3 with a home run in the second game of the day as the UW-Oshkosh softball team split a pair of contests against nationally ranked opponents to open play at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Leadoff Classic on Friday (March 2) in Tucson, Ariz.

UW-Oshkosh (5-1), ranked 20th in the NCAA Division III by the NFCA, suffered a 10-2, five-inning loss to 22nd-ranked George Fox University (Ore.) before rebounding with a 10-5 victory over 18th-ranked Messiah College (Pa.).

McIlhany, who leads UW-Oshkosh with a .667 batting average this season, accounted for four of the Titans' 13 total hits in the two games.

In the win over Messiah College, the Titans erupted for six runs on six hits in the bottom of the third inning. UW-Oshkosh then extended its lead to 10-3 with a four-run fifth frame.

McIlhany led off the home half of the third inning with an inside-the-park home run for a 1-0 Titan advantage. The home run was McIlhany's first of the year and the second of her career.

UW-Oshkosh's Natalie Dillon laced a one-out triple and scored on a single by Abby Menting. Natalie Dudek increased the Titan lead to 3-0 with a two-out, run-scoring single. Pinch-runner Kailee Garstecki came around to score the fourth run of the inning on a passed ball, and Emma Fionda capped the six-run frame with a single that plated Dudek and Kaitlyn Krol.

Titans starting pitcher Claire Petrus worked around Messiah College baserunners in each of the first three innings, but the Falcons cut their deficit to 6-3 in the fourth frame on a run-scoring groundout and a two-run homer from Nicole Kreimer.

UW-Oshkosh tacked on four insurance runs in the fifth inning behind RBI singles by Dudek and McIlhany, and a two-out, two-run double from Acacia Tupa.

Messiah College (5-1) left the bases loaded in the sixth inning and stranded two more baserunners in the seventh.

Back-to-back errors by UW-Oshkosh – the team's first two miscues of the season – allowed the Falcons a run with two outs in the seventh inning. McKenzie Tebbs followed with a run-scoring single to pull the Falcons within 10-5, but Petrus notched a strikeout to conclude the game.

Petrus improved her record to 3-0 on the season, scattering 10 hits and yielding five runs (three earned) in the complete-game effort. She walked four and struck out two.

Dudek had three hits, two runs and two RBIs for the Titans.

Isabel Seise went 3-for-4 to lead Messiah College.

Carrie Fix and Kreimer both added two of the Falcons' 10 hits.

Messiah College starting pitcher Madelyn Yannetti was charged with the loss after allowing six runs on seven hits and three walks in three innings.

During the loss to George Fox University, the Bruins broke open a close game with a nine-run bottom of the third inning.

The Bruins outhit the Titans. 11-3, as George Fox University starting pitcher Madison Sorensen held UW-Oshkosh hitless through the first four frames.

George Fox University (8-1) took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single from Madelynn Vallejo with no outs in the second inning.

The Bruins then exploded for nine runs on eight hits during the third inning as first 11 George Fox University batters reached base. The nine-run outburst featured two-run doubles from Kimi Ito and Alex Parker.

The Titans broke up the no-hit bid on a one-out single by Tupa against Bruins relief pitcher Alexa Hamaker. Tupa's hit was followed by consecutive doubles from McIlhany and Carly Szada off of Hamaker.

Sorensen, who re-entered for Hamaker in the fifth inning, was credited with the win for the Bruins, tossing 4.2 hitless frames with 10 strikeouts.

UW-Oshkosh had just two baserunners against Sorensen, who hit Erika Berry with a pitch with one out in the second inning. Krol reached first base via a Bruin error with two outs in the fourth frame.

Ito, Roni Braun and Aaliyah Kautz had two hits each for George Fox University.

Titans starting pitcher Bailey Smaney (2-1) suffered the loss, ceding four runs on five hits over the first two innings.

UW-Oshkosh remains in Tucson to play 24th-ranked Babson College (Mass.) and DePauw University (Ind.) on Saturday (March 3.