Softball holds onto conference lead

Michael Johrendt

The UW Oshkosh women’s softball team took on three opponents this week and came away with four wins in six games. Facing St. Norbert College at home and UW-Whitewater and Marian University in road contests, the Titans held down their conference lead. In their last home games of the season, the Titans took on St. Norbert College and came away with a sweep of the doubleheader. They held the Green Knights to three total runs over the two games, while scoring 13 of their own. Sophomore pitcher Clare Robbe had a complete game effort in the first game, allowing no earned runs while striking out three in a 4-1 win. Sophomore second baseman Elizabeth Fonk led the team with three RBIs, stemming from a two-RBI double and a sacrifice fly. Sophomore right fielder Brianna Witter had a perfect day at the plate, going three-for-three and scoring once. She said setting smaller goals throughout the season makes the overall goal easier to reach. “Our main goal is to win the WIAC conference,” Witter said. “We want to [win], but we aren’t shooting for a specific record. Instead, we are just taking it game by game and making sure that we put all of our effort and focus into our next game. By focusing on smaller goals it will help us toward that bigger picture of winning the conference.” In the second game of the doubleheader, the Titans used an early offensive output, tallying four runs in the first three innings, to win 9-2. Eight Titans recorded hits in the contest, and six had RBIs. Freshman catcher Abby Menting went two-for-three with one RBI and two runs scored, and sophomore right fielder Caitlin Hoerning drove in four runs. Junior pitcher Sara Brunlieb scattered four hits and one run over five innings of one-run ball on her way to earning her 11th win of the season. Menting said with the grind of the schedule, the team is not afforded the time to prepare for every game, but if they concentrate on fundamentals they will be just fine. “We [do not] have time to prepare for all [the] games,” Menting said. “We have to continue to play our game and do the little things right. If we keep our minds right and stick to the fundamentals, we [will] be good to go. We can only control what we do, so that is what we focus on. We don’t necessarily worry about the other team, we just worry about us.” The doubleheader on Saturday pitted Oshkosh up against UW-Whitewater, and the Warhawks handed the Titans their first two conference defeats, both by one run. The first game brought a walk-off win for Whitewater, as an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning proved to be the decider in a 3-2 defeat. Brunlieb went the distance, earning her fourth loss of the season, even while recording six strikeouts and only allowing two earned runs. Freshman Kaitlyn Krol hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game at two. In the second contest, the Titans put up seven runs on 11 hits, including three long balls, but still fell 8-7. Sophomore third baseman Erika Berry, Hoerning, and Robbe all hit home runs for Oshkosh, with Hoerning and Berry both sending balls out of the stadium in a four-run seventh. Junior starting pitcher Paige Giese and Robbe only allowed three earned runs in the game, with Robbe striking out three Warhawks. Next up for Oshkosh was facing off against Marian University. The Titans only allowed one run through both games in winning the two-game series. Oshkosh put up 16 runs, including 11 in the five-inning mercy-rule second game. The first contest was much closer with a 5-0 Oshkosh win, as Brunlieb pitched her way to her twelfth victory of the season. She threw a two-hit shutout, striking out four. She said the team excels by simply being themselves and not losing character when in tough situations. “We just want to be ourselves when it comes to every game,” Brunlieb said. “We do not want to do too much. ABC softball is what our mentality has been this year. We know we have the talent so we just have to ‘play ourselves.’ The overall goal is to win the conference title to have the opportunity to host but we take it one game at a time.” The second game was an offensive showing for the Titans, as they posted seven runs alone in the second inning in an 11-1 victory. Menting had a home run and led the team with five runs batted in, and Witter, Giese, senior centerfielder Hayden Krueger and senior shortstop Haley Bayreuther all earned RBIs in the win. Robbe closed out the doubleheader with a complete-game gem, striking out two batters while allowing only one run on three hits. She faced only 19 Sabres, and only threw 54 pitches. The Titans close out their season with two scheduled away doubleheaders against UW-Eau Claire and University of St. Thomas (Minn.), with a rescheduled two games against UW-Platteville eventually being put back on the schedule.