ST. GEORGE, Utah – For the first time, the Butler softball team has won its first two games at the national tournament, even if it did take 15 innings to get the second win.
Fourth-seed Butler (50-4) outlasted fifth-seeded Florida Southwestern State (53-15) in a winner's bracket second-round game Thursday night at the Canyons Complex. With the win, Butler is one of only four teams without a loss in the tournament. The Grizzlies will face eighth-seeded Yavapai, Ariz. (49-14). The Roughriders knocked off top-seeded Tyler 3-2 in second round play.
Florida Southwestern scored first to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against starter Regan Mergele, but Butler answered quickly with a two-run home run by Brynn Minor in the bottom of the inning to take a 2-1 lead.
Florida Southwestern got another run in the top of the second to tie the game 2-2.
In the top of the fourth, Florida Southwestern scored two runs on four hits and took a 4-2 lead.
Butler took advantage of an error that led to two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Morgan Bohanan walked and Becca Schulte reached on a throwing error by the third baseman, allowing Bohanan to score and Schulte to advance to third. Two batters later, Morgan Heckart singled to drive in Schulte, tying the game 4-4.
Neither team would score for the next nine innings. Brynn Minor, on in relief of the starter Mergele, allowed four hits and a walk and didn't allow a runner to get past second base in any of the 10 innings she pitched.
Butler, meanwhile, loaded the bases three different times, but had a batter strike out to end the inning each time.
Finally in the 15th, Megan Wurts doubled to right-center to lead off the inning. Bohanan drew a walk to put runners at first and second with no outs. Schulte, who leads Butler with 14 home runs and 68 runs batted in this season, was called on to lay down a sacrifice bunt. The ball was fielded by the Florida Southwestern third baseman but thrown away, allowing Wurts to score from second to end the game.
Minor earns the win, improving to 5-0 on the season. Florida Southwestern starter Courtney Gettins threw all 14-plus innings for the Buccaneers, taking the loss to drop to 39-5 on the year.
Butler is now guaranteed to finish among the final eight teams in the nation. The 50 wins in a season is also the second highest total in program history, trailing only the 2013 team that went 54-4 and finished in the final four at nationals with four wins in the tournament.