Softball wins seven in Florida

Austin Walther

The UW Oshkosh women’s softball team sealed its seventh victory out of 10 games over spring break in Clermont, Florida. The team reached its goal of seven wins, and head coach Scott Beyer said he likes where the team is headed. “The trip wasn’t all about wins and losses,” Beyer said. “It was also about coming together and finding an identity, and I believe we accomplished that.” Sara Brunlieb said the team began to connect with one another over the 10-game stretch. “Overall I think we grew as a team and found our potential,” Brunlieb said. “We got a lot more comfortable, and I’m excited to see what this season has in store for us.” Brunlieb walked the second batter of the game, then retired the remaining 14 and secured her first ever no-hitter. “I wasn’t really thinking much about it during the game,” Brunlieb said. “I didn’t realize it until my coach said so in the post-game wrap up.” The 12-run victory was fueled by senior Katie Koepsel’s fifth home run of the season, which was a 3-run shot in the first inning and had a total of four runs batted in for the game. Beyer said he was most pleased with the final game of the week against Thomas. “That game exceeded expectations,” Beyer said. “All 16 players were able to hit, and we had a lot of base runners.” Brunlieb gives credit to her teammates for the 11th no-hitter in program history. “The key was tight defense and stellar offense,” Brunlieb said. “It’s always easier on a pitcher when your team is scoring runs.” Beyer was proud of Brunlieb and said she had great command throughout the whole game. “She had a lot of movement on her pitches,” Beyer said. “That was able to keep the batters off-balanced.” In the first game of the last day in Florida, Oshkosh played the University of Chicago (Ill.) for the second time on the trip. After giving up a two-out, 1 run single, freshman pitcher Clare Robbe held the Maroons scoreless on 2 hits for the rest of the game. Freshman Brianna Witter led off the fifth with a double and scored on a wild pitch. Then junior Haley Bayreuther gave the Titans the lead for good after a bunt single to defeat the Maroons 3-1. In the second game on March 26, the Titans posted its highest run total of the season against Carthage College. Brunlieb relieved Robbe in the second inning after giving up 5 runs (3 earned) and Brunlieb was able to hold the Lady Reds scoreless for the rest of the game. Brunlieb said she felt no pressure at all coming in for Robbe and getting the Titans out of the jam. “The game against Carthage was probably the best I’ve felt all season,” Brunlieb said. “I was focused, and my spins were tight.” After trailing 5-3, the Titans posted a 5-run second inning and scored in the next three out of four including a 3-run sixth to end the game early 13-5. In its third and final loss of the trip, Oshkosh went to extra innings with Middlebury College (Vt.) in the first game of the doubleheader after its 3-1 lead was erased by a homerun to tie the score at three. Oshkosh surrendered a three-run eighth inning and scored only once and fell to Middlebury 6-4. In the last game on March 24 against Colby College (Maine), Robbe was able to record her second shutout of the season by facing only two over the minimum and struck out 7. Pitching in complete games is nothing new to Robbe. “I am used to it from high school and summer ball,” Robbe said. “But now being in college and doing well is really exciting.” In the first game, Kalamazoo (Mich.) began the game by leading 1-0 in the first inning, but Brunlieb went on to retire the next 11 out of 12 batters. In the second inning, Koepsel drove in the eventual game-winning run on a sacrifice fly which was also her 100th RBI of her career. “It makes me feel good about the things I am doing for the team,” Koespel said. “Producing as many runs as I can.” Koespel was also able to get a hit in each game and leave Florida with a 15-game hitting streak. “Although I was not crushing the ball,” Koespel said. “I still did what I had to do to get on base to be able to give us a chance to score.” The Titans gave up one more run in the fifth, but freshman Erika Berry connected on her third hit and third RBI of the game, which was a run scoring double. As for Berry, she enjoyed going three for four with a double, three RBIs and two stolen bases. “It felt great during the Kalamazoo game,” Berry said. “I’m just happy I could contribute to the big team win.” On the second day of the tournament on March 23, the Titans won the second game against Hamilton College (N.Y.) after Robbe came in relief for Brunlieb and earned her first save of the season. After going down early 5-2, Oshkosh chipped away at its deficit and finally took the lead in the third inning after senior Emily Mallek singled with the bases loaded to score a run and ultimately win 7-5. “On the mound you cannot show emotion that will rattle your performance,” Robbe said. After reaching 7 wins for the week, Beyer said he is confident about the team moving forward. “Our conference is very tough,” Beyer said. “After facing good competition, our confidence is very high now.”