Softball homestand ends with walk off win


Katie McIlheran

UW-Whitewater pitcher Mallory Hollatz is seen here pitching against Carthage College at the Van Steenderen Complex Apr. 21 2022.

Mikey Rottier, Assistant Sports Editor

The UW-Whitewater softball team played a pair of double headers at home this week and won three games with just one loss. The Warhawks started off the week strong by taking two games against UW-Stevens Point on Tuesday, April 19 and followed that matchup with a 1-1 split series against Carthage on Thursday. The team also split their double header at the University of Chicago on Saturday April 13. They lost game one 3-5 and won game two by a score of 6-3. The Warhawks improved their record to 14-14 (5-5 WIAC).

Mallory Hollatz performed well from the mound in the Warhawks first matchup of the week against Stevens Point. Hollatz allowed just three hits and pitched a shutout through all five innings of play. Both teams remained scoreless through the first two innings before Whitewater broke the game open with six runs in the third. Krista Sbarra grounded out to drive in the first run of the game and the Warhawks followed with an RBI single from Meghan Dunning, a single from Delaney Becker to score a pair and a two run scoring double from Kennedy Cox. Whitewater tallied three more runs in the fifth inning and ended the game 8-0 with a mercy rule. 

Warhawk catcher Kennedy Cox is seen here getting ready to make a play at home plate against Carthage player Apr. 21 2022. (Katie McIlheran)

In the second matchup against the Pointers, Rhiann Dick threw the first four innings for Whitewater, before Kate Cleveland came in relief in the fifth. Dick allowed just two runs and Cleveland recorded the save with a pair of strikeouts in her two and two thirds innings and allowed just one run. The Whitewater offense started to heat up in the bottom of third and scored three runs to break the 2-2 tie. Sydney Anderson hit a single that scored Meghan Dunning and Krista Sbarra, followed by a sacrifice fly from catcher Kennedy Cox to give the Warhawks a 5-3 lead. Whitewater tacked on two more runs in the sixth for a 7-3 victory.

Despite Hollatz’s stellar performance against Stevens Point, she got off to a rough start against the Carthage Firebirds in game one of Thursday’s double header. Hollatz got herself into a jam in the first inning and loaded the bases on three hits. With a pair of outs the Firebirds pitcher Naomi Alonzo sent one over the left field fence for a grand slam and an early 4-0 Carthage lead. Hollatz gave up another pair of runs in the second before the Warhawks brought in Dick to relieve her. Whitewater was never able to shift the momentum and suffered a 9-0 loss. 

Warhawk shortstop Meghan Dunning bats against Carthage College Apr. 21 2022. (Katie McIlheran)

Undeterred by the blowout, the Warhawks were able to bounce back and won a pitcher’s duel in extra innings to split the series. Kate Cleveland pitched an incredible eight inning shutout and turned the tide defensively for Whitewater. Cleveland threw a perfect game through five and one third innings before she gave up a hit to Kirby Peters in the sixth. She finished the game with just three hits allowed. 

“Throwing a no-hitter is always kind of in the back of your mind but you try not to think about it as much,” Cleveland said. “I knew my defense was going to be behind me whether or not I gave up a hit and we were going to come back and get some runs. It is always something pitchers think of but I tried not to think about it today.”
With the tie scored 0-0 in the seventh the game was forced into extra innings. Cleveland held the Firebirds to another scoreless series of at bats and gave the Warhawks the walk off opportunity. Kiarra Kostroski doubled to deep center field followed by a walk to Krista Sbarra that put runners on first and second for Dunning. The shortstop responded to the high pressure situation with a walk-off RBI single that gave Whitewater the 1-0 win. 

Warhawk shortstop Meghan Dunning gets ready to catch a pop fly against Carthage Apr. 21 2022. (Katie McIlheran)

“You always have to stay calm because if you don’t you are going to crack under the pressure,” Meghan Dunning said. “We are told to focus on the moment and just stay calm, and that is what was going through my head during that at bat.”

The clutch win and standout performance from pitcher Kate Cleveland left the Warhawks with the momentum in their favor as they will turn their attention to next week’s matchups. 

“I know we made a couple of mistakes today, I even made a mistake coaching third base, but we just have to learn from them and most importantly get consistent on offense,” head coach Brenda Volk said. “I think if we can continue to do some of the things we are doing and continue to attack offensively we are going to be okay. It was huge for us to split the series 1-1 rather than going 0-2 today.”

Whitewater will play their last home games of the regular season Wednesday, April 27. After that they will play two more series against conference rivals UW-Eau Claire and UW-La Crosse to close out the season. The Warhawks are hoping to string together a number of quality wins to carry them into the postseason.

Warhawk second baseman Delaney Becker makes a throwing play against Carthage player Apr. 21 2022. (Katie McIlheran)