Softball finishes 6-2 on Florida trip

Neal Hogden, Managing Editor

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The UW Oshkosh softball team got its season underway in a roller coaster road trip to Iowa and Florida.

The team began its trip with a four-game set in Iowa against Loras College and Wartburg College, dropping three out of four games against the two schools.

UWO lost the frontend of their double header against Loras College in a pitcher’s duel, 2-1. Senior Bailey Smaney pitched a gem but a sixth-inning home run by Loras’ Ashley Lentine gave the Duhawks the victory.

The lone win came via a 10-7 win against Loras College. Senior catcher Abby Menting led the Titans, going four-of-five and driving in two runs. Junior Claire Petrus got the win in circle as she went five innings, giving up three runs.

The Titans fell victim to giving up 13 walks between the two games against Wartburg College and ultimately fell to the Knights 13-5 and 11-3.

Head coach Scott Beyer said the team hadn’t had an outside practice yet and wasn’t prepared for the dirt field.

“Those were our first games on dirt this season, and there is always a little learning period each year when we first get outside,” Beyer said. “We found out the speed of the game was a little quicker than what we were ready for.”

Junior Natalie Dudek said it was important for the team to pull together after dropping three out of its first four games.

“After losing a couple games in Iowa, we talked a lot about playing for each other and getting more comfortable in pressure situations,” Dudek said. “I think we made a big turn around in Florida against some good teams by doing just that.”

UWO spent spring break in Florida as they went 6-2 against teams from Minnesota, New York, Maine, Illinois and Indiana.

The team began the trip with a pair of victories against St. Olaf College (Minn.) and Thomas College (Maine), 6-5 and 7-0, respectively.

Smaney got the win in the first game, going six innings and giving up five runs on 10 hits.

Beyer said knowing that you have someone pitching that will keep you in the game is huge for the offense.

“As a team, knowing you have a competitor in the circle that will keep you in every game has a calming effect,” Beyer said. “She takes pressure off of our offense, and she knows we will score runs for her.”

Petrus played an important role in the two games as she collected two hits and an RBI in the two games and pitched a seven-inning, three-hit shutout against Thomas College.

The following day, the Titans lost a pair of games to Midwest schools.

In the early game of the double header, UWO could only muster-up one run as they lost to St. Catherine University (Minn.) by a final score of 5-1.

Smaney got the start for the Titans as she went five innings, giving up four earned runs on seven hits. UWO left seven runners on base as Menting drove in the lone Titan run.

Later in the day, the Titans were at a one-run disadvantage late in the game but were never able to recover against Franklin College (Ind.) as they ultimately lost 6-2.

UWO bounced back after a day off in Florida as they defeated The College of New Rochelle (N.Y.), 8-2.

Sophomore Carly Szada led the Titans offensively as she recorded two hits and drove in three runs. Smaney kept the Blue Angels at bay, pitching seven innings and allowing only two runs while striking out nine.

Smaney said the cohesion between herself and Menting allows for the duo to keep hitters off balance.

“I’ve been working with my catcher Abby Menting to keep batters off balance,” Smaney said. “We’ve kept a good mix of pitches and were able to adapt to different teams and batters. Usually, my game plan is to just get ahead in counts and trust my defense.”

The Titans then finished out the trip with a 8-0 win against Colby College (Maine) and two victories against the University of Chicago (Ill.).

The Titans will host Lakeland University on Thursday in a double header with the first game starting at 3 p.m.