OSHKOSH — Coming into the 2023 season the UW-Oshkosh softball team’s best start to a season was 12-0. This year, they obliterated that going 17-0 and right now are 19-1 and first place in the WIAC.
They’re looking to get back to the D3 NCAA Softball Championships, like they did in 2021.
The key to their success is pitching. Right now they’re the best in the nation.
“It’s such a luxury to throw out two No.1 pitchers against anybody and knowing you’re going to be involved in every game,” said Titans head coach Scott Beyer. “You’re never going to get beat by a bunch of runs, we’re always going to be in it and giving our offense a chance to win.”
The UW-Oshkosh pitching staff has the lowest ERA in Division 3 — a miniscule 0.76. At the top of the rotation is senior Maddie Fink who has a 0.5 ERA.
“The girl wants the ball every time we’re going to throw in a big game,” Beyer said. “It’s hard for me to take the ball out of her hands sometimes. That competitive edge that she’s got, you can’t teach that.”
Right behind her helping the Titans sweep a lot of doubleheaders is sophomore Sydney Nemetz, who has a .78 ERA.
“She’s got this one pitch, that I don’t know how it works – I don’t think she does either,” said Fink. “It’s the most nasty pitch I have ever seen.”
The 2 are both in the top-15 for ERA for the nation. However, they’re both quite different on the mound.
“Maddie is more of like a bulldog, she lives in the moment a little bit more,” Beyer said. “She gets up for big pitches and Sydney just stays calm and throws the same overall. She tries to keep a calm mindset the whole time.”
But what makes their success even more amazing, is the Titans don’t have a designated pitching coach.
“I’m their support system and that’s pretty much all I do,” said the Titans head coach. “I just sit back and make a lineup and I just let them go do their thing.”
They get some input from their coaches, but most of the time, it’s them helping each other.
“I love going to practice with (Nemetz) just being able to sit in the bullpen and work with each other on our pitches and having that sounding board just for everything,” said Fink.
“She’s been a great role model for me since I walked in – made me feel at home here at Oshkosh, so it’s been pretty cool,” Nemetz said about her relationship with Fink.
It’s a friendly competition between the two that drives the pair to be the best version of themselves when they step on the mound.
“The big thing is that we rely on each other,” Fink said. “There’s such healthy competition between the two of us because we both want the ball and we both want to play as hard as we can. We know when we’re both pushing each other, that’s when we’re at our best.”
And despite getting batter after batter out at the plate and racking up wins, these Titans are just happy to be playing the game they love.
“19-1 is nothing to turn your head at. Honestly this team is playing as a team, super great culture and chemistry that we’re building,” said Fink. Honestly, it’s not even about the wins at this point, I’m out there having fun with my best friends. There’s nothing that can beat that.”
“If you ask any of us, sometimes we even forget the record we have and we’re just playing to have fun and just playing loose and you can see that in the way we play with each other,” Nemetz said.