ST. GEORGE, Utah — Grizzly freshman Makensey Pankers lifted a single to right-center field to score Payton Reynolds as No. 4 Butler earned a 7-6 walk-off win over Southern Idaho in Thursday's second round of the NJCAA Division I National Tournament at the Canyons Softball Complex.
Butler now advances to Friday's national quarterfinals, where the fourth-seeded Grizzlies (52-4) will take on No. 1-ranked Florida Southwestern at 12:00 p.m (1:00 Kansas time). The Buccaneers (53-3) defeated Seminole State (Okla.) 8-2 in Thursday's second-round action.
Butler seemed poised to face little challenge from Southern Idaho early on as starting pitcher Maddie Siemer dominated the Golden Eagles early on. Siemer, who struck out the side in the first inning, recorded seven strikeouts while allowing just one base hit after three innings.
Meanwhile, the Butler offense got off to another hot start. After scoring five runs in the first inning of their first-round game on Wednesday, Butler put up three runs in the first inning against Southern Idaho.
The Grizzlies put runners at the corners after singles by Shalee Brantley and Brianna Robinson, then Abi Cole delivered a two-out single through the left side of the infield to score Brantley for the first run. Reagan Wilson, who had three hits in the contest, followed with a two-run double to center to score both Robinson and Cole for a 3-0 Grizzly lead.
Butler added another run to go up 4-0 in the second when Paige Pacher singed and scored on a Brantley triple to right-center.
Siemer ran into trouble in the fourth inning by walking the leadoff batter, then surrendered a two-run home run to Nicole Renner, cutting Butler's lead to 4-2. After Seimer allowed a walk and hit-by-pitch to the next two batters, Southern Idaho took a 5-4 lead on a Mikelle Magalogo three-run homer to center field.
With no outs in the inning, Celina Sullivan was brought in to relieve Siemer. Sullivan allowed a single to the first batter she faced, but eventually worked her way out of the inning with no further damage.
Wilson helped Butler tie the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth inning with a single to center to score Brantley.
The Grizzles could have ended the game in the top of the seventh, but a throwing error allowed Southern Idaho to tie the game at 6-all heading to the bottom of the inning.
Wilson would come up clutch one more time in the bottom of the seventh, getting a one-out single to center. Payton Reynolds hit into a fielder's choice, which forced Wilson out at second. Reynolds later advanced to second on a passed ball. With two outs, Pankers lined a ball into right-center, allowing Reynolds to score the game-winning run.
Brantley, Robinson and Cole each had two hits for Butler, while Brantley scored twice.
Sullivan (23-1) pitched the final four innings, allowing just one unearned run on three hits, striking out seven and walking none. She has both of the Grizzlies' victories in the tournament.
NOTES: Butler improves to 18-12 all-time in NJCAA tournament play... Thursday's game was the first time Butler has faced Southern Idaho, who was the Region XVIII and District N champion... Since filling in at center field after a season-ending injury to Kenzie Young, Wilson has been hot offensively by reaching base in 10 of 11 games. The Towanda sophomore is hitting .424 (14-of-33) with 12 RBIs and nine runs scored. She has three doubles, a triple and a home run during the 11-game span... Between Siemer and Sullivan, Butler had 14 strikeouts. Each Southern Idaho batter that had a plate appearance had at least one strikeout in the game.