Kaitlyn Krol and Abby Menting arrived on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus four years ago.
Krol came from Chicago, Menting from nearby Kimberly.
Together, they made up two-thirds of the three-person freshman class for Titan softball.
Both shy and quiet as first-year students, they became a dynamic duo that changed the trajectory of UWO softball.
Both will graduate Saturday, leaving behind a long-lasting legacy.
Coach sees something special in both
Scott Beyer had taken over the Titan softball program just two years prior to Krol and Menting joining the team. Beyer was working to put together the foundation of his vision for Titan softball. When he watched both players, he knew they would be the key.
“Between the two of them, I saw some of the same characteristics and knew that our culture would change with having them in our Titan family,” Beyer said. “They are both very caring people and always put others before themselves, and I knew that was what our culture needed.”
Beyer happened upon Krol while recruiting another player on her team and instantly liked what he saw.
“As I watched her play, I knew she would be a great fit to mold our culture,” Beyer said. “She was a great team player who had a lot of raw skills on the field, but most importantly, she had a great attitude and was a great teammate.”
Menting was recruited by some bigger schools and originally verbally committed to play softball at a Division I. When Menting decided against the Division I route, Beyer jumped at the chance to bring her into the Titan family.
“I knew Abby was a great player who played at a high level that would bring a winning attitude to our team,” Beyer said. “I also knew she was quiet but talked loudly on the field and was a great leader.”
Focused on success on and off the field
Like most first-year students, Krol and Menting arrived on campus nervous and uncertain about the future would hold, but both were focused on making an impact on the softball team and succeeding academically.
“Freshman year, the stress level of everything was very high, and they would worry about every little thing,” Beyer said. “Now watching them as seniors, they are much more cool, calm and collected when adversity gets thrown their way.”
Menting credits the upperclassman at the time in helping her to adjust to college.
“Members of the senior class welcomed me as a friend and teammate and were always there to help if I needed anything,” Menting said. “They taught me to go with the flow and to trust that everything would work out, on the field and in the classroom.”
In balancing both academics and athletics, Menting was fortunate enough to come into college with a significant number of credits from her time at Kimberly High School, which eased her academic load. Krol’s decision to take her major classes online allowed her more flexibility.
“Taking my classes online for my major did leave me open with a lot of flexibility, but I definitely had to prioritize,” Krol said. “Time management was a huge thing. I knew I had to sacrifice some social things I may have wanted to do in order to make sure my academics and athletics were at a good place.”
Once adjusted to college life, they both thrived on the softball field and quickly became mainstays in the Titan starting lineup.
UWO finished second in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (WIAC) their first season—the best finish for the program since 2008.
A year later, the Titans earned a bid to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2008, and advanced to their first Super Regional in 19 seasons.
Krol finished that postseason run with six hits and four runs batted in and was named to the La Crosse All-Regional team, while Menting produced six hits and had three runs batted in.
The Titans went on to play in the WIAC Championship game in 2018 and made it back-to-back NCAA postseason berths with a bid the same year—breaking another 10-year UWO record.
Krol closed out her career earning All-WIAC accolades twice, playing in 155 career games, with 130 hits, 64 runs, 24 doubles, eight home runs and 88 runs batted in. Menting ended her career being named All-WIAC three times, was the 2016 Co-WIAC Position Player of the Year, and played in 163 games, with 164 hits, 84 runs, 38 doubles, 17 home runs and 115 runs batted in.
For all the individual accolades, both say they will will remember best the victories and the times with their teammates.
“I remember hearing our name being called twice at the NCAA Selection Show and I can’t even begin to describe the feelings that came with it,” Krol said. “You spend your whole season working to get to that point and compete against the best teams all over the country. The fact that I was able to be a part of that two times is such an accomplishment for Oshkosh softball, and it is something I will never forget.”
“My favorite memories have truly been all the fun times that I’ve had with my teammates and best friends,” Menting said. “I will never forget dancing outside the dugout before games, all our obnoxious cheers, Kaitlyn tripping on the field in Florida, all the fun we had together.”
Leaving a lasting legacy
With their cleats put away and gloves stored, the two are set to earn their degrees this May.
Krol is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in human services with a certificate in coaching and community health, and Menting will earn a supply chain management bachelor’s degree.
Focused on becoming a softball coach, Krol will transition to a coaching role on Beyer’s staff next year while teaching softball lessons at 360U. Menting was recently hired by Midwest Paper Group as a supply chain analyst.
Each is grateful for the lessons learned as part of the Titan softball team.
“Coach Beyer has given me all the tools to be a great softball player and teammate and so much more,” Krol said. “He instilled upon me that softball is important, but also emphasized how there is so many more components to my life than just softball. I hope to be half the coach that Coach Beyer is in my coaching career.”
Menting echoed Krol’s sentiments.
“Coach Beyer and the Titan softball program have truly prepared me for life after college, and I cannot thank him enough for the role he played in my growth as a person,” Menting said. “I would not be the person that I am today without Coach Beyer, my teammates and the experiences that I had through Titan softball.”
For Beyer, Titan softball would not be the program it is today without Krol and Menting stepping on campus four years ago.
“These two leave this program a huge void to fill,” Beyer said. “The things they have learned and taught to the underclassmen will continue to shape our culture well beyond the next couple of years. They have created a culture through expectations, routines and a positive mindset. They took the time to teach them, which will be paid forward for many years to come.”