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Titans Wallop Red Hawks In Five-Inning Contests

Emma Fionda went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs in the nightcap against the Red Hawks.
Emma Fionda went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs in the nightcap against the Red Hawks.

The UW-Oshkosh softball team jumped out to large early leads and cruised to a pair of five-inning victories over Ripon College on Tuesday (April 16) at the UW-Oshkosh Softball Park.

UW-Oshkosh (17-9) extended its winning streak to nine games against Ripon College after defeating the Red Hawks by scores of 11-0 in the opener and 10-2 during the nightcap. Both contests were halted in the fifth inning due to the eight-run rule after the Titans got out to first-inning leads of 5-0 in the first game and 6-0 during the second.

UW-Oshkosh, which defeated UW-Stout by a 10-3 score Saturday (April 13), has scored double-digit runs in three consecutive games for the first time in program history.

The Titans excelled on both offense and defense Tuesday, collecting 27 total hits with zero strikeouts at the plate and increasing their errorless streak to six games while turning two double plays in the field.

UW-Oshkosh compiled a .529 batting average and reached base at a .569 clip in the two games against Ripon College. The Titans, who entered the day leading the WIAC in scoring, batting average and on-base percentage, are now averaging six runs per game on the year with a .339 average and a .404 on-base percentage.

UW-Oshkosh starting pitchers Bailey Smaney and Claire Petrus earned complete-game wins as Smaney tossed a five-hitter in the opener for her fourth shutout of the year. Petrus allowed six hits in the nightcap.

Smaney (11-3), who has won each of her last eight decisions, increased her WIAC-leading victory total while Petrus evened her season record at 6-6.

The Titan pitching duo benefitted from an offense that received hits from 13 different players, including four apiece from Emma Fionda and Amanda McIlhany. Petrus, Natalie Dudek and Jordan Manthei each added three hits for UW-Oshkosh.

In Tuesday's first game, UW-Oshkosh erupted for five runs in the first inning on five hits and three walks. The first seven Titans reached base as walks to Acacia Tupa and Kaitlyn Krol bookended the streak that featured five consecutive singles by Petrus, McIlhany, Dudek, Abby Menting and Kailee Garstecki. Dudek and Garstecki both drove in two runs before Manthei capped the rally by drawing a walk with the bases loaded for a 5-0 UW-Oshkosh lead.

The Titans added another four runs in the bottom of the third inning, when Krol reached via a one-out error, and Grace Stevens and Manthei followed with singles to load the bases. Szada plated Krol with a groundout and Stevens scored on a wild pitch. Fionda walked to put runners at the corners with two outs ahead of McIlhany and Dudek, who both delivered RBI singles to extend the UW-Oshkosh lead to 9-0.

Smaney, who pitched around doubles in the second and third innings, escaped a jam in the fourth frame to preserve the shutout. A walk and single started the inning, but Smaney recorded back-to-back strikeouts and induced a popup with the bases loaded to thwart the threat.

UW-Oshkosh then tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning on Szada's two-out double that scored Krol and Sidney Budzinski. Krol singled with one out, and Budzinski preceded Szada's hit with a double of her own after entering as a pinch-hitter.

Smaney, who retired four of the last five batters she faced, lowered her team-best earned run average to 2.48 on the way to her 11th complete-game effort of the season.

Dudek and McIlhany both went 2-for-3 for the Titans. Dudek and Szada tied season highs with three RBIs apiece.

Lexi Reetz had a pair of hits to lead the Red Hawks.

Cortney Bols (0-7) suffered the complete-game loss in the Ripon College pitcher's circle.

During the nightcap the Titans once again overwhelmed the Red Hawks in the first inning, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six times on six hits.

Tupa opened the bottom of the first inning with a walk before Petrus knocked her in with a double. UW-Oshkosh's string of five straight hits continued with singles by McIlhany, Dudek and Krol, and a Manthei double. Chloe Lambie lifted a sacrifice fly that scored Krol, and Fionda gave the Titans a 6-0 lead with her two-out RBI single.

Ripon College (7-21) tallied its only runs of the day during the third inning on a solo home run by Emyli Kreiser and a sacrifice fly from Taylor Natzke. The Titans then invoked the eight-run rule by scoring four times during the bottom of the fourth frame despite not having a baserunner with two outs.

Dudek sparked the two-out rally by reaching on an error. Budzinski then smacked a single, Manthei drove in Dudek with another single, and Katie Kugel's double scored both Budzinski and Manthei. Following a walk by Lambie, Fionda gave the Titans an eight-run lead with a single that scored pinch-runner Stevens.

Fionda finished 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs for her third multiple-hit performance in the past eight games.

Manthei added two hits and a career-high three runs batted in for the Titans, who also received two hits each from Kugel, McIlhany and Petrus.

Petrus walked three batters and struck out three en route to her seventh complete game of the year.

Ripon College pitcher Margaret Herrin (0-1), making her first start of the season, was charged with the loss after yielding 10 runs (six earned) on 13 hits and one walk across 3.2 innings.

UW-Oshkosh remains at home to host UW-Platteville for a doubleheader Friday (April 19) at the UW-Oshkosh Softball Park.

Photo by Steve Frommell