With a home doubleheader sweep over Seward County on sophomore day, Butler softball clinched the Jayhawk East Conference title outright – marking the 15th conference title in the program's history and ninth straight championship.
Butler hammered Seward in Saturday's opening game, needing just five innings for a run-rule 10-2 victory over the Saints. The Grizzlies then won the conference title with a 4-2 Game 2 win, as sophomore Brianna Robinson moved into second all-time at Butler in career home runs with her 39th career homer.
Butler (34-6 overall, 23-1 conference) will take its 20-game conference win streak on the road Monday for a doubleheader against Barton in Great Bend. First pitch from Cougar Field is at 1:00 p.m. The Grizzlies will finish out the regular season on Tuesday with a non-conference doubleheader against Cowley at 4:00 p.m. Butler will then head to Dodge City for the Region VI Division I Tournament, which begins on Friday.
Game 1 – Butler 10, Seward County 2 (5 innings)
The Grizzlies jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first inning behind a three-run home run to right field from Taliya Talley – her team-high 17th of the season.
Butler added four more runs in the fourth inning, getting consecutive RBI singles from Brianna Robinson, Talley and Asia Henry. Two batters later, Jordan Carlson capped the scoring in the inning with a run-scoring double to left-center to plate Henry.
Seward scored its second run in the fifth inning after a throwing error to second base on a stolen attempt, which allowed Alyssah Pontoja to score from third base.
Butler then ended the game by run-rule in the bottom of the frame, as Barta led off the inning with an infield single. After stealing second, Barta then scored on an error on a ground ball hit by Shayna Espy. Robinson followed with a double to left field to score Espy for the walk-off victory.
Megan Johnson (13-2) earned the win by throwing four innings, allowing one unearned run on four hits and striking out two batters. Kaylee Burnett threw the final inning, as she gave up one unearned run on one hit.
Talley, Robinson, Makensey Pankers and Barta each had two hits in the contest, with Talley driving in a team-high four RBIs. Gutierrez, Rspy, Robinson and Barta each scored two runs.
Game 2 – Butler 4, Seward County 2
After a scoreless first inning, Seward led off the second inning with singles from Emily Mojica and Cassandra Esquibel. An Alyssah Pontoja groundout to shortstop scored Mojica, then Esquibel scored on a fielding error when Nicole Nelson reached first.
Butler was limited to just one hit after three innings before exploding for four runs in the fourth inning. Robinson opened the scoring with a solo home run to left-center, which moved her into second place all-time at Butler in career home runs. Robinson moved past Kate James (2013-14) on the leaderboard and is now just three home runs behind leader Becca Schulte (2016-17).
Two batters after Robinson's solo shot, Asia Henry hit a one-out double to left, then Makensey Pankers walked. Jordan Carlson followed with a single up the middle to drive in Pankers and put runners at the corners. A wild pitch from Pontoja allowed Pankers to score from third base to put Butler in front.
With two outs, pinch hitter Anna Icenhower – making her first plate appearance since April 4 – popped up a ball that landed untouched on the left side of the infield. Seward shortstop Jaci Oakley dove for the ball, but knocked it away on the bounce, allowing Carlson to score the fourth run.
Olivia DePew (10-2) became the second Grizzly pitcher to reach 10 wins on the season. The freshman righthander allowed two runs – one unearned – on five hits and struck out one batter. Burnett earned her second save of the year by throwing three shutout innings, giving up just one hit and fanning one.
Butler managed just six hits in the contest, with Carlson the only Grizzly getting two hits.
NOTES: Butler improved to 52-15 all-time against Seward County under head coach Doug Chance. The Grizzlies are 22-1 in their last 23 games vs. the Saints and have won nine straight… Butler won its 13th conference title under Doug Chance. The Grizzlies have won the crown 13 out of 15 years under Chance, who began his coaching tenure at Butler in 2005… Robinson moved past Brynn Minor for second place all-time in career RBIs at Butler. Heading into Saturday's doubleheader, Robinson was tied with Minor with 144 RBI. With three RBI on the day, Robinson is 34 behind career leader Becca Schulte (181, 2016-17)... With a single in Game 1 and a walk in Game 2, Gutierrez has now reached base in 31 straight games by either a hit, walk or error.