Softball bats on fire to start season

Cory Sparks, Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh softball team went 5-3 between March 20-26 in road doubleheaders and improved their overall season record to 7-3.

While most UWO students were enjoying a relaxing spring break, the Titans played an eight-game stretch in seven days.

In UWO’s four doubleheaders, they split their games against Carroll University (winning 2-1 and losing 2-1), split their games against Marian University (winning 4-2 and losing 8-3), swept Lakeland University (19-4 and 7-4) and split their games against Concordia University (winning 3-1 and losing 6-1).

At this point of the season, the team is pleased with its performance and believes it can do some serious damage this year. In comparison to the teams of past years, upperclassmen feel that this team is beyond anything the softball program has seen in a while in terms of talent.

“Over the past five years, the girls on the team this year are the most talented group of people I have played with in my career as an athlete,” senior shortstop Natalie Dudek said. “We have a lot of depth at every position and the desire to win. So far, we are just working together to get to know each other and win games as a team.”

The winning record is one that is rather encouraging to the team, and they are looking to continue to build on this strong start to the season.
“I think that our team is doing well this year,” junior outfielder Katie Fontanetta said. “We are 7-3 and we have a lot of talent that is showing out on the field so far.”
Some of UWO’s leading batters are freshmen Hannah Ritter and junior Natalie Dillon, both with a .500 batting average; sophomores Ana Iliopoulos and Sidney Budzinski, each with one home-run; and junior Kailee Garstecki with eight runs batted in (RBI).

The Titans as a team are outscoring their opponents 52-28 on the season (5.2 runs a game to 2.8 runs a game).

Despite the sizable gap in scoring between the Titans and their opponents, there is more to improve on in order for the team to be the best in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC).

“Oshkosh has always been a top talented offensive team in [the conference]. Our problem right now is just leaving runners on base,” Dudek said. “That is a part of the game. We will bring those runners in and hopefully in good time once conference play starts.”
Sophomore pitcher Maddie Fink has had an electric start to the season. Fink leads UWO pitching in wins (4), complete games (4), innings pitched (34), strikeouts (7), strikeouts per seven innings (6.18) and earned runs given up per seven innings at 1.03 (also leading the WIAC in this category).

UWO as a whole has an earned run average of 2.52, which is second best in the conference behind UW-La Crosse.

The Titan players are pleased with their individual performance thus far, with the upperclassmen looking to pass the lessons they’ve learned onto the younger players for future use.

“I am doing my best to contribute to the team in any way I possibly can,” Dudek said. “My goal this year is to work hard and share my experience with the people staying here next year after I graduate. That means playing every game for your teammates and making sacrifices no matter what that may be.”

Other UWO players are looking to harness all of the enjoyment that they can while they play this season.
“I play the role that I am given each game and go out there and have fun,” Fontanetta said. “It is my last year playing softball, so I really just want to go out there and do my best and have some fun.”
UWO currently sits at second place in the conference with a 7-3 overall record behind UW-Whitewater, which is 10-4.
The team will play conference opponents for the remaining 22 games of the season starting with a double-header at UW-Platteville on April 6 with game times at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
“Our team is as talented as they get,” Dudek said. “Compared to the teams in conference or in the state, we can compete with anyone.”
Home games will only allow pre-approved spectators (check the UWO athletics page for the policies), and the game’s video feed can be viewed on the UWO athletics page.