Tigers come back to top Titans and advance in NCAA Championship
SALEM, Va. - Trailing 1-0, top-seeded DePauw scored two in the bottom of the fifth and held on for a 2-1 win over eighth-seed Wis.-Oshkosh in the opening game of the 2021 NCAA Division III Softball Championship Finals. The Tigers moved to 39-3 on the season and advance in the winner’s bracket to face Texas Lutheran which defeated Tufts, 4-3. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m. The Titans dropped to 28-12.
The Titans wasted little time in getting on the board as Hannah Ritter reached on a fielder’s choice after Acacia Tupa led off the game with a walk. Ritter moved to second on a wild pitch and came home when Gabby Buikema singled to center.
Wis.-Oshkosh left one runner stranded each of the first three innings and two more in the fourth. Meanwhile, the Titans’ starter Maddie Fink was perfect through three innings before Kelsey Bernhard led off the fourth with a single and moved to second on Lily Jennings’ sacrifice bunt but the Tigers were unable to capitalize.
The Titans left another runner on in the top of the fifth and this time DePauw took advantage in the bottom half of the frame as Drew Bratcher led off with a single and pinch-runner Goose Moore moved to second when Grace Smith singled. Kate Geary singled to load the based before pinch-hitter Chase Epp reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Moore. After Epp and Geary stole second and third, respectively, Jade Mejia Wick grounded out to second, allowing Geary to score and give the Tigers a 2-1 advantage.
Armed with the lead, DePauw starter Cami Henry retired the TItans in order in the sixth before giving up a leadoff single in the seventh which was wiped away with a game-ending double play when the Titans’ base runner was called for interference after being forced at second.
DePauw totaled just four hits as Bernhard, Bratcher, Smith and Geary had one apiece. Ritter, Buikema and Amanda Mc Ihany had one hit apiece for Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Henry moved to 23-0 while striking out seven and walking five. Fink dropped to 20-5 after allowing four hits.
DePauw improved its all-time record in NCAA play to 38-26 and its Finals record to 5-8
The win marked the fourth time in five Finals trips that the Tigers won their opening game
Cami Henry improved to 23-0 and now leads Division III in pitching wins this season
Henry’s 23 wins equal the fifth-most in a DePauw season with Megan Soultz holding the record of 36 in 2008
The Tigers’ 39 wins trail only the 40 in both 2008 and 2010 as the most in program history
With two stolen bases, the Tigers now have 134 on the season which equals the second most in program history behind the 162 in 2019