With a perfect 28-0 conference record and a dominating performance while winning to their ninth Region VI championship, Butler softball was well represented on the All-Kansas Jayhawk Conference Division I team, which was released Monday.
Butler (48-4 overall) led the conference with six first-team selections and 11 overall – including three top honors in sophomore Celina Sullivan (Most Valuable Player), freshman Brianna Robinson (Freshman of the Year) and head coach Doug Chance (Coach of the Year).
Sullivan (pitcher) and Robinson (utility), along with sophomores Kenzie Young (outfield), Alexis Reed (first base), Caylie Kifer (third base) and Maddie Siemer (pitcher) all received first-team honors. The Grizzlies had three players – sophomores Paige Pacher (outfield), Payton Reynolds (outfield) and freshman Abi Cole (shortstop) – named to the second team, while sophomore Shalee Brantley (second base) and freshman Makensey Pankers (catcher) were honorable mention selections.
Chance earned Coach of the Year honors for the 10th time in his career at Butler. In his 14th season as head coach of the Grizzlies, Chance earned his 600th win back on April 15 at Dodge City this season.
Butler won its third straight Region VI championship and seventh in the last eight seasons. The Grizzlies have won nine overall Region VI titles (2007-08, 2011-14, and 2016-18). Butler also has won eight consecutive Jayhawk West titles and 11 in the last 13 seasons. The Grizzlies have won a total of 14 Jayhawk West titles in the program's history.
As Region VI champion, the Grizzlies will host in the NJCAA District E Championship best-of-three series against Region IX winner Trinidad State (Colo.), which begins Wednesday, May 9 with a doubleheader beginning at 4:00 p.m. If needed, a third game will be played on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. The winner will advance to the NJCAA National Tournament in St. George, Utah on May 16-19.
Celina Sullivan, P, sophomore, Albuquerque, N.M.
Sullivan earned conference MVP honors after going 20-1 with a 0.97 earned-run average and striking out 196 batters. Among all NJCAA Division I pitchers, Sullivan ranks second in strikeouts per 7 innings (11.90). Sullivan led the Grizzlies in strikeouts, ERA, innings pitched (115 1/3), appearances (33), saves (5) and complete games (8) while being tied the team lead in wins (20). The sophomore tossed two complete-game no-hitters (at Northwest Kansas Tech, April 10); vs. Seward County, April 20) and had eight games of 10 or more strikeouts.
Sullivan also had a consecutive shutout inning streak of 37.2 (March 31-April 15) and was a two-time NJCAA Pitcher of the Week recipient, earning the honor in consecutive weeks. She also was named KJCCC Division I Pitcher of the Week six times.
Sullivan, who was an All-KJCCC second-team selection last year as a pitcher, also saw spot duty as a hitter where she went .575 (23-of-40) with five home runs, 27 runs batted in, 13 runs scored and five doubles.
Brianna Robinson, 1B/P, freshman, Henderson, TX
Robinson led the Grizzlies in home runs (22), runs batted in (75), hits (62), doubles (11), walks (24) while ranking second with a .484 batting average. Among Grizzly single-season leaders, Robinson currently ranks in a tie for fourth all-time in home runs and fifth in runs batted in.
A true freshman transfer at break from Alabama State, Robinson currently has a 15-game hitting streak, hitting .636 (28-of-44) with 12 home runs and 35 runs batted in. She was the top Butler hitter at the Region VI Tournament, hitting .800 (8-of-10) with five home runs, 12 RBI and seven runs scored.
Robinson drove in a game-high seven runs in a 19-2 road win at Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa and had six games this season where she hit two homers. She earned KJCCC Division I Player of the Week honors during the final week of the regular season after hitting .588 with five home runs and drove in 14 runs.
In 19 appearances in the circle, Robinson went 2-0 with a 3.25 earned-run average, as she struck out 19 batters in 23.2 innings.
Kenzie Young, OF, sophomore, Derby
Young leads the Grizzlies in five offensive categories – batting average (.488), on-base percentage (.572), runs scored (68), triples (7) and stolen bases (37) – while hitting 14 home runs and driving in 60 runs. She also is second on the team in hits (61), on-base percentage (.572) and walks (23).
Young had a 25-game hitting streak with a .539 average (41-of-76), 12 homers, 47 RBI, six doubles, five triples and scored 40 runs. Playing center field, Young hit safely in 33 of her last 34 games before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the regular season finale against Seward County. She earned KJCCC Division I Player of the Week twice this season.
Young, who was an All-KJCCC first-team outfield selection last year, is the Grizzlies' career leader in triples (13) and runs (158) while ranking in the top 10 in home runs (22, 9th), RBI (131, 4th), hits (9th) and batting average (.468, 3rd) and stolen bases (63, 5th). Currently ranking third on the Butler single-season leaderboard in both batting average and triples from this season, Young set the school record for most runs scored in a season with 90 runs last year during Butler's national title run.
Alexis Reed, 1B, sophomore, Lee's Summit, MO
Reed is hitting .468, leads the Grizzlies in slugging percentage (1.016) and is tied for the team lead in doubles (11), while ranking second in home runs (19) and runs batted in (66). A first-team All-KJCCC selection last year at first base, Reed currently ranks fourth all-time at Butler in career home runs (28) and ranks seven in career RBIs (113).
Reed currently has an eight-game hitting streak, hitting .400 (10-of-25) with one homer, seven RBI, two doubles and four runs scored. Three times this season, Reed hit a home run in three consecutive games. Reed also had a stretch where she hit six homers in seven games (April 4-11). She had game highs in home runs (2, at Garden City, April 4) and RBIs (five, three times).
Caylie Kifer, 3B, sophomore, Towanda
In 50 games this season, Kifer is hitting .415 with two home runs, 28 runs batted in and 33 runs scored. Defensively, she leads Butler with 46 assists and has a .939 fielding percentage with just five errors. On the base paths, the sophomore was a perfect 11-of-11 in stolen bases. An All-KJCCC second-team selection at catcher last year, Kifer tied a career-game high mark with three hits in the Grizzlies' 18-0 Region VI title win over Seward County on Sunday.
Maddie Siemer, P, sophomore, Aurora, CO
In 22 starts with 27 appearances so far this season, Siemer went 20-2 with a 2.65 earned-run average and struck out 121 in 95 innings pitched. Siemer is tied with Sullivan in wins, as the teammates were the just the second Grizzly duo in the program history to both reach 20 wins in the same season. In the Region VI title game against Seward County, Siemer threw 5.1 shutout innings of no-hit ball and matched her career-high with eight strikeouts.
Paige Pacher, OF, sophomore, Huntsville, TX
Primarily in the leadoff spot, Pacher is hitting .424 with 16 runs batted in and ranks second on the team in stolen bases (33) and triples (5). In four games at the Region VI tournament, Pacher hit .636 (7-of-11) with six runs scored and five stolen bases. An All-Tournament team selection at NJCAA Nationals last year, Pacher had a pair of four-hit games (North Iowa Area, March 10; vs. Colby, March 17) and two games of three stolen bases (North Iowa Area, March 10; at Northern OK-Tonkawa, April 8).
Payton Reynolds, OF/P, sophomore, Topeka
A transfer from Barton, Reynolds is hitting .395 with four home runs, 30 RBI and 41 runs scored through 49 games this season. From March 6-26, Reynolds had her best offensive stretch by hitting safely in 12 of 13 games with a .457 average (16-of-35) with three home runs, 14 RBI and 13 runs scored. She was an honorable mention selection at utility with the Cougars last year.
Abi Cole, SS, freshman, Benton, LA
Through 48 games, Cole is hitting .393 with three home runs, 31 runs batted in and 48 runs scored. She is tied for the team lead in doubles (11) and ranks third in runs scored, stolen bases (33) and triples (4). Cole opened the season with a 10-game hitting streak, hitting at a .500 clip (13-of-26) with six RBI, 13 runs scored, seven stolen bases and two triples over that span.
Shalee Brantley, 2B, sophomore, Broken Bow, OK
A transfer from Seminole State (Okla.) CC, Brantley is hitting .371 with 22 runs driven in, 33 runs scored and 16 stolen bases in 47 games this season.
Makensey Pankers, C, freshman, Omaha, NE
In 34 games at catcher, Pankers has a batting average of .288 with three home runs, 21 runs batted in and 17 runs scored.