Softball clinches postseason berth


Steve Frommell

Abby Menting celebrates with her team at home plate after her fourth-inning homerun versus UW-Eau Claire.

The UW Oshkosh softball team went 2-2 last week in doubleheaders versus UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls.

The Titans claimed the fifth and final spot in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship tournament after sweeping both the opener, 5-4, and the nightcap, 9-1, against the Falcons Sunday in River Falls.

In game one, UWO took an early lead with two RBIs at the top of the third inning.

The Titans went on to score another one after junior Acacia Tupa hit a single to center field driving home sophomore Kailee Garstecki in the fourth.

River Falls answered with two runs scored in the fifth to close the Titans’ lead to one run, 3-2.

UWO and River Falls exchanged two runs during the final two innings to yield a one-point Titan victory in the opener.

In game two, UWO and River Falls matched each other’s one run-in in the first frame, tied 1-1.

It was not until a five-run fourth inning that the Titans pulled away with a 6-1 lead. The Falcons remained scoreless the rest of the game as UWO rallied for a four-run fifth frame to force a five-inning game.

Both innings included three-run home runs from Tupa in the fourth and Sydney Budzinski in the fifth.

The Titans opened their two-game stretch with back-to-back losses to the Blugolds on Friday at home.

In game one, the score remained 1-0 in Eau Claire’s favor through the first four innings until UWO stepped up with two RBIs during the fifth.

Jordan Manthei positions herself at first base.
Steve Frommell
Jordan Manthei positions herself at first base. Manthei has committed zero errors in the 2019 softball season.

The Titans had zero runs marked in the final two frames while the Blugolds went off for two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh, granting Eau Claire a 4-2 victory over UWO.

Game two played out in similar fashion with an early Eau Claire lead after the Blugolds plated two runners during the first inning.

UWO answered with a run-in during the fourth and a four-run inning in the fifth to give the Titans a 5-2 lead heading into the top of the sixth.

UWO and UWEC exchanged a run apiece in the sixth frame to maintain the Titans’ three-point lead, but the Blugolds’ late four-run seventh-frame rally gave them the 7-6 victory over Oshkosh.

Head coach Scott Beyer said despite losing those two crucial games to the Blugolds, it was exactly the kind of pressure the Titans needed to take on UWRF for that final WIAC Championship spot.

“We might have lost twice versus Eau Claire, but we played two really good games against them,” Beyer said. “There are no ‘good’ losses, but we definitely learned from what we did well that day and carried that over into a must-win situation against River Falls.”

The Titans will begin WIAC Championship play in Whitewater on Friday with game one against the fourth-seeded UW-La Crosse at 10 a.m.

The winner of game one will face the No. 1 seed UW-Whitewater on Friday at 2 p.m. The loser of game one competes against the loser of game two, which is played against the second-seed UW-Eau Claire and third-seed UW-Platteville at noon on Friday.

First base senior Kaitlyn Krol said the Titans are more ready than ever before to chase down that elusive WIAC title.

“We have every opportunity to win the conference tournament and get a bid to the NCAA tournament,” Krol said. “This year’s team is the hardest-working team that I have played with in my four years of college softball, and I cannot think of a team that deserves success more than the other 18 girls on this softball team do.”

UWO concluded its 2019 regular season with an overall record of 21-15 and a 7-7 record in conference play.

Last year, the Titans finished second with a 10-2 record in WIAC play and managed a 26-14 record overall. The Titans also made it to the championship round of the WIAC tournament in the 2018 season where they lost 6-5 to the top seed UWW.

Beyer said despite being the bottom seed, he remains confident in his team heading into the postseason tournament.

“We need to continue to play our game, our way,” Beyer said. “We have played very well against all the teams in the WIAC tournament, and we are confident this weekend that we can be a fifth seed and win the whole thing.”