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Sophie Wery drove in two runs with a double in the third inning. Photo Credit: Michael Sudhalter
Sophie Wery drove in two runs with a double in the third inning. Photo Credit: Michael Sudhalter

Top-Seeded Wildcats Score Late Runs To Edge Titans

MARSHALL, Texas- UW-Oshkosh softball was tied with Linfield University (Ore.) headed into the seventh inning of the second round game of the 2024 NCAA Division III World Series, however a two-run home run handed the Titans their first loss of the tournament.

This year's edition of the World Series is being hosted by East Texas Baptist University on Bell Park at Taylor Field.

This is the Titans' third appearance in the World Series. They finished sixth in the 1988 finals hosted in Elmhurst, Ill. and fifth in the 2021 finals in Salem, Va. The team defeated Virginia Wesleyan University (40-9) 4-1 past midnight on Thursday night (May 30) in a 9 hour and 28 minute marathon win. Thursday's win is the first first round victory for the Titans in NCAA postseason history.

The Wildcats (50-2) recorded seven hits with a home run and the Titans (45-6) hit five times with a double. Sydney Rau (Sr. • Downers Grove, Ill.) stole her team-leading 12th base of the season and Linfield stole a base of their own while Sophie Wery (Jr. • Seymour) threw out another attempt. Both teams were perfect in the field with no errors.

Starting in the circle for the Titans was Brianna Bougie (Fr. • Oshkosh), who threw Oshkosh's wins over Trine University (Ind.) to win the Angola Super Regional on May 24 and Virginia Wesleyan on May 30. She threw 3.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks.

Sydney Rau started the Titans' half of the first inning with a leadoff single and stole second to put a runner in scoring position with two outs. She was stranded however as Hannah Ritter (Sr. • Marengo, Ill.) flew out to left field.

The Wildcats scored the first runs in the top of the second. They loaded the bases on a walk, a single and a fielder's choice before adding runs when Tiani Wayton hit a sacrifice fly to left field and Kalli Saathoff was hit by a pitch.

Sydney Rau and Brianna Davis (Jr. • Oshkosh) had both reached base in the bottom of the third inning on a fielder's choice and a walk by the time Wery stepped up to the plate. Wery proceeded to hit her 13th double of the season, sending Rau and Davis across home plate to tie the game at 2-2.

After Bougie got two outs in the top of the fourth, Abby Freismuth (Sr. • Fond du Lac) came in as relief and forced a flyout to end the inning.

In the top of the fifth, Sydney Nemetz (Jr. • Marinette) was in the circle for the Titans. She recorded the final out of the win over Virginia Wesleyan with a three-pitch strikeout and picked up right where she left off by forcing a flyout against her first Wildcat faced and fanning the second. She allowed a two-out single to right field before striking out her second, ending the inning.

When the Titans batted in the bottom of the sixth, they advanced a runner to third, but couldn't take advantage of the opportunity before the third out was recorded.

Brynn Nelson broke up the tie in the top of the seventh with a home run to left field, also scoring Saathoff who reached on a bunt single down the third base line. Nemetz then forced two straight outs to right field to end the inning.

The first game of Friday was between East Texas Baptist, the second seed and Rowan University (N.J.), the seventh seed. The host Tigers won their first game of the championship series by a 7-0 score. No. 3 seed Case Western University (Ohio) fell to No. 6 seed Belhaven University (Miss.) in game two on the day, the first upset of this year's World Series.

After the Oshkosh-Linfield contest, eighth-seeded Tufts University (Mass.) and fifth-seeded Virginia Wesleyan face in the first elimination game of the tournament, followed by East Texas Baptist and sixth-seeded Belhaven University (Miss.). The second elimination game will be played between Rowan and Case Western Reserve University (Ohio), the three seed.

UW-Oshkosh will face the winner of the Rowan-Case Western game in an elimination contest at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday (June 1) while Linfield University will enjoy a day off before facing the winner of Game 9 on Sunday (June 2) at 11 a.m.

Post-game Press Conference