The UW-Oshkosh softball team swept a doubleheader against University of Chicago (Ill.) behind the Titans' highest scoring inning of the season in the opener and a late two-out rally during the second contest Saturday (March 30) in Clermont, Fla.
UW-Oshkosh (10-6), which extended its winning streak to four games, blitzed the Maroons for nine runs in the first frame en route to an 11-0, five-inning win before coming back for 5-2 triumph in the second game.
The Titans, who compiled a 6-2 record during their trip to Florida, have won each of their last six meetings with the Maroons since 2015.
UW-Oshkosh outhit University of Chicago, 18-15, and struck out just once in 49 at-bats Saturday.
Bailey Smaney (6-3) earned wins in the pitcher's circle during both games, collecting a pair of victories on the same day for the first time during her four-year collegiate career.
Smaney went the distance in the first game, tossing her third shutout of the season and fifth of her career. She held the Maroons to four hits with two strikeouts and zero walks. Just one University of Chicago baserunner advanced past second base as Smaney yielded just three singles before allowing a two-out double in the fifth inning.
Smaney, who ran her scoreless streak to 13 consecutive innings, escaped a bases-loaded jam unscathed in the fourth frame of the second contest on the way to limiting University of Chicago to three singles over the final four innings out of the bullpen.
In Saturday's first game, Smaney pitched around a one-single in the top of the first inning before the UW-Oshkosh offense scored four runs before recording an out during the home half of the frame.
Claire Petrus led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk. Acacia Tupa reached via catcher's interference, and Abby Menting walked to load the bases for Sidney Budzinski, who scored Petrus with the only run Smaney would need.
Kaitlyn Krol continued the 14-batter UW-Oshkosh first inning with a bases-loaded double, Grace Stevens drove in Krol with a single and Petrus hit a three-run double of her own. Tupa capped the first-inning barrage with a run-scoring single for a 9-0 lead.
Smaney retired seven straight Maroons until allowing a two-out single in the third inning. She gave up another two-out single in the fourth inning and a one-out double during the fifth. University of Chicago had its first runner reach third base with two outs in the fifth inning, but Smaney induced a groundball back to the pitcher's circle to end the contest via the eight-run rule and secure the shutout.
The Titans added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the third inning on a two-run double by Budzinski, who produced two of the Titans' eight hits.
Budzinski, Krol and Petrus each drove in three runs. Petrus has registered at least one hit during each of the last eight games in which she's batted.
University of Chicago starting pitcher Jordyne Prussak (1-3) suffered the loss, surrendering nine runs (eight earned) on five hits and two walks in one-third of an inning.
During the second game, UW-Oshkosh erased deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 before taking its lone lead on consecutive two-out RBI singles from Tupa, Menting and Smaney in the top of the sixth inning.
University of Chicago (5-7) jumped out to a 1-0 lead against Petrus, the Titans starting pitcher, following a two-out, run-scoring single from Gabi Angellotti in the bottom of the first inning.
UW-Oshkosh tied the score on Natalie Dudek's first home run of the season to lead off the top of the third inning. Dudek launched her homer – the fourth of her career – well beyond the left field wall off of Maroons starting pitcher Bethany Regnerus.
The Maroons answered with a run in the third inning as Emma Nelson drove in Abby Hayes, who led off the frame with a double. However, Petrus limited the damage to one run by inducing a flyout and a popup to strand a pair of baserunners.
University of Chicago began their half of the fourth inning with back-to-back singles that ended Petrus' outing. Smaney then retired the first batter she faced before giving up a single to load the bases. The Maroons squandered their chance to build upon their lead as two straight popups on the infield left three runners on base.
UW-Oshkosh tied the score at 2 in the top of the fifth inning as Tupa singled with one out, stole second base and scored on Krol's two-out single up the middle.
Smaney worked around an error to begin the bottom of the fifth inning, preserving the tie by getting three straight outs on a sacrifice bunt, a lineout and a grounder back to the circle.
Amanda McIlhany led off the Titans' three-run rally in the sixth inning with a double to left field. Stevens sacrificed McIlhany to third base, but Katie Fontanetta was deemed out of the batter's box for the second out. Dudek walked on five pitches to put runners at the corners for Tupa, who laced a single up the middle to score McIlhany for the eventual winning run.
Menting and Smaney followed with RBI singles to extend the Titan lead to 5-2. Smaney, who drew a walk in her first plate appearance of the season during the fifth inning, collected her first hit and RBI as a Titan. Smaney has now reached base in all five of her plate appearances – three walks, one single and one hit-by-pitch – since transferring to UW-Oshkosh in 2017.
Smaney set down seven consecutive Maroons until allowing back-to-back one-out singles in the seventh inning. With the tying run at the plate, Smaney proceeded to strike out Skye Collins and induce a groundball to Stevens at third base to end the game.
Tupa went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two stolen bases for the Titans.
McIlhany, who extended her hitting streak to seven games, added two of UW-Oshkosh's 10 hits.
Regnerus (3-2) went the distance in the pitcher's circle for University of Chicago, allowing 10 hits and a pair of walks without recording a strikeout.
Angellotti went 3-for-4 to lead the Maroon offense, which also received two hits each from Hayes, Nelson and Samantha Lauro.
University of Chicago's 11-run defeat in Saturday's opener matched its largest loss since suffering a 15-3 setback to Trine University (Ind.) during a 2016 NCAA Division III regional final contest.
UW-Oshkosh conducts its home opener Tuesday (April 2) against Marian University at the UW-Oshkosh Softball Park.
Photo by Paul Fionda