DODGE CITY, Kan. - Butler softball opened coneference play with a road sweep over Dodge City on Wednesday at Legends Field, despite windy conditions throughout the day.
The second-ranked Grizzlies (22-0 overall, 2-0 conference) won the opener 3-0 over the Conquistadors behind a complete-game one-hitter from sophomore pitcher Regan Mergele. In the second game, Butler run-ruled Dodge City 15-5 in six innings to extend their winning streak to 60 consecutive games.
Butler will next hold its home opener on Tuesday, March 7 with a doubleheader against Maple Woods (MO). First pitch from East Park is at 2:00 p.m. The Grizzlies will then host Colby on Wednesday for the home conference opener at 2:00 p.m.
Game 1 - Butler 3, Dodge City 0
Butler was held scoreless until the sixth inning, when the Grizzlies finally broke through with all three runs.
Brynn Minor led off the inning with a walk, then moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt. An Allison Jurgensen single to center and a fielding error by Dodge City centerfielder Brittney Gonzalez allowed Minor to score.
Mergele (9-0) had a season-high with 10 strikeouts and allowed just two baserunners in the contest. Dodge's Breanna Guerrero reached base in the fourth inning on a throwing error. In the seventh, Gonzalez opened the inning with an infield single, but was eventually caught off second base on a groundball to shortstop Becca Schulte.
Jurgensen was the only Butler hitter to have two hits in the contest, while Minor was 1-for-2 with two walks.
Game 2 - Butler 15, Dodge City 5 (6 innings)
Butler's offense did not waste any time in the second game, scoring twice in the first inning.
Ki'Audra Hayter walked, stole second and moved to third base on a Kenzie Young single. Butler then pulled a delayed double steal as Hayter stole home and Young moved to third on an errant throw. Two batters later, Young scored on an RBI groundout by Brynn Minor.
In the second, consecutive singles by Beanie Luttig and Ki'Audra Hayter followed by back-to-back walks to Young and Becca Schulte put Butler up 3-0. Minor then cleared the bases with a grand slam home run to left field.
Dodge took advantage of Butler's defensive miscues in the second inning. With the bases loaded, Breanna Guerrero reached first on a fielder's choice to score Kim Herron. A Kylie Fox groundout added another run. With two outs and two runners in scoring position, Dodge managed to score two more runs when Brittany Gonzalez reached first on an error.
Schulte put Butler up 10-4 in the third with a line drive three-run home run to left-center. Dodge added another run on an RBI groundout in the bottom of the inning.
Butler was held scoreless in the fourth, but scored twice in the fifth again behind the speed of Hayter and Young. With runners at the corners, Young stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error, which allowed Hayter to cross home. Minor then singled to left-center to drive in Young.
The Grizzlies added three more runs in the sixth all with two outs, beginning with an RBI single by Hayter to score Luttig. Hayter then scored when pinch hitter Nykiah Hines tripled to left-center. Tyesha Morgan then singled to left to plate Hines.
Minor led the offensive charge going 3-for-4 with a career-high six RBI. Hayter was 4-for-4 with five runs scored, while Young was 2-for-2 with four runs scored. Schulte had four RBI with two runs scored.
Darrian Hale (4-0) picked up the win by throwing three innings and allowing one earned run on five hits. Celina Sullivan had two shutout innings, giving up no hits, walking two and striking out two. Maddie Siemer tossed the final inning and struck out two batters.
NOTES: Mergele lowered her ERA to 0.28, which ranks first among NJCAA pitchers with 50 or more innings pitched. The sophomore right-hander has also now thrown 15 consecutive shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out 24 batters during the streak... Through 22 games, Butler's offense ranks among the NJCAA's best in numerous categories (runs scored - 204, 5th; triples - 13, t-2nd; home runs - 26, 5th; runs batted in - 185, 3rd; walks - 106, 3rd).