Acacia Tupa launched a go-ahead three-run homer in the top of the fourth inning during the second contest of the day, Claire Petrus later added a three-run shot of her own, and the UW-Oshkosh softball team earned a doubleheader split at UW-La Crosse to open conference play Saturday (April 6).
UW-Oshkosh (12-8, 1-1 WIAC) rebounded to down the Eagles, 12-2, in five innings after suffering a 6-3 setback in the league opener. The Titans' lopsided win in the second game was their first by 10 or more runs over the Eagles since a 10-0 decision during the first-ever meeting between the teams in 1982.
UW-La Crosse (13-9, 1-1 WIAC) fell to 3-1 at home this season and allowed its most runs of the year in the nightcap.
Tupa went 5-for-7 on the day with two doubles, three runs scored, four runs batted in, a stolen base and her first home run of the season. Tupa drove a full-count, two-out pitch well beyond the center field wall that provided the Titans the lead for good at 4-2 in the second game.
Petrus drove in a team-leading five runs Saturday, including four in the second game. Her second home run of the year – a three-run blast to left-center field with one out in the fifth inning – created the final score during the second contest.
UW-Oshkosh outhit the Eagles, 24-17, collecting a season-high 16 hits in the nightcap as each spot in the Titan lineup produced at least one hit. The Titans' 16 hits during the second contest matched their most since pounding out 18 in a 9-6 win at Lakeland University on April 25, 2017.
In the second game, UW-La Crosse held leads of 1-0 after two innings and 2-1 heading into the fourth frame, but the Titans erupted for 11 runs on 13 hits over the final two innings.
The Eagles opened the scoring in the second inning as a leadoff single from Kendra Leis and a one-out double by Katie Block brought up Nicole Trussoni, who reached via an infield error. However, Titans starting pitcher Bailey Smaney limited the damage to one run despite the two hits and a pair of errors on the infield. With the bases loaded and two outs, Smaney induced a popup to stymie the rally.
UW-Oshkosh knotted the score at 1 with an unearned run in the top of the third inning. Jordan Manthei reached on a hard line drive that was deemed an error off the glove of Leis, the Eagles first baseman, with one out. Tupa was then awarded first base on catcher's interference, and Petrus followed with a single to left field to plate Manthei with the tying run.
After UW-Oshkosh left the bases loaded in the top of the third inning, the Eagles reclaimed their final lead of the day with an unearned run in the home half of the third frame. Stephanie Cole was hit by a pitch with one out, advanced to second base on a Leis single and scored on an infield throwing error by the Titans with two outs.
Eagles starting pitcher Sydne Shattuck retired the first two Titan batters in the fateful top of the fourth inning before Natalie Dudek doubled to right field and Manthei hit an infield single to bring up Tupa. After fouling off several pitches with two strikes, Tupa delivered the eventual game-winning runs with her home run to center field that ended Shattuck's outing.
Smaney pitched around a one-out double in the bottom of the fourth inning, and the Titans put the game away with eight runs on 10 hits during the top of the fifth frame.
McIlhany sparked the fifth-inning onslaught with a single that extended her hitting streak to nine games. After a sacrifice bunt by Abby Menting, Grace Stevens and Fionda followed with singles before pinch-hitter Gabby Buikema smashed a double. The Titans then ran their streak to seven consecutive hits as Dudek and Manthei hit back-to-back singles, Tupa doubled and Petrus crushed a three-run homer the opposite way to left field.
The Titans reloaded the bases with two outs in the fifth inning following singles by pinch-hitter Kailee Garstecki and Fionda, and a hit-by-pitch from Stevens, but the Eagles finally got the third out after UW-Oshkosh sent 14 batters to the plate. Fionda and Stevens both reach twice during the Titans' fifth-inning barrage.
Smaney proceeded the retire the Eagles in order during the bottom of the fifth inning to cap the victory and improve her record to 8-3 on the year. Smaney, who has won four straight decisions, held UW-La Crosse to two runs (one earned) on four hits. She struck out two without issuing a walk on the way to her eight complete-game effort of the season.
Tupa went 3-for-3 with four RBIs in the nightcap while Dudek, Fionda and Manthei each added a pair of hits for the Titans. The home runs were the fifth of Tupa's career and Petrus' sixth.
Shattuck (3-4) was charged with the loss for the Eagles, yielding four runs (three earned) on six hits and one walk with three strikeouts.
Leis accounted for two of UW-La Crosse's four hits.
In the conference opener, UW-La Crosse scored twice in the bottom of the first inning and never trailed.
Leis and Block hit two-out, run scoring singles in the first inning for the Eagles, who increased their lead to 3-0 on a two-out RBI double from Sydney Murphy in the home half of the second frame and to 4-0 on a run-scoring double by Emily Knight with one out in the fourth.
UW-Oshkosh cut its deficit to 4-3 with a three-run fifth inning, but UW-La Crosse added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth frame.
The Titan fifth inning began with a Tupa double, a run-scoring single by Petrus and a two-run homer from McIlhany off of Eagles starting pitcher Caitlyn Hughes. However, relief pitcher Maddie Muelken entered following McIlhany's home run and held UW-Oshkosh scoreless on just two hits over the final three innings to pick up her third save of the season.
Hughes (8-1) earned the win for the Eagles after allowing three runs on six hits in four-plus innings. She walked three and struck out two.
Mia Schmidtke and Sabrina Scardamaglia had three hits apiece for the Eagles. Schmidtke recorded a double and her conference-best fifth home run.
Fionda, McIlhany and Tupa all doubled and recorded two of the Titans' eight hits.
Petrus (4-5) suffered the loss in the UW-Oshkosh pitcher's circle, allowing five runs on 11 hits and one walk with two strikeouts across the first 5.1 innings.
UW-Oshkosh and UW-La Crosse entered the day as the top two hitting teams in the WIAC. The Titans were leading the league with a .330 batting average while the Eagles were next at .329.
The Titans return home to host UW-Whitewater for a doubleheader Wednesday (April 10) at the UW-Oshkosh Softball Park.