Butler hammers seven HRs, routs Howard in NJCAA 2nd round

Butler hammers seven HRs, routs Howard in NJCAA 2nd round

ST. GEORGE, Utah - Butler softball matched a season-high with seven home runs as the Grizzlies run-ruled No. 9 Howard, Texas, 15-3 in the second round of the NJCAA Division I National Tournament on Thursday at Canyons Softball Complex.

Sophomore shortstop Becca Schulte hit three home runs, including a grand slam during an eight-run second inning for Butler. Schulte drove in a career-best eight runs, which also ranks as a team high.

With the victory, Butler (55-1 overall) advances to Friday's quarterfinal at 1:00 p.m. CST against No. 5 Central Arizona (52-9), who defeated fourth-ranked Chipola, Fla., 2-0. 

The win set a Grizzly school record for most victories in a single season, breaking the mark set by the 2013 team who finished 54-4. Butler's seven home runs matched a season-high mark (at Pratt, March 3).

Schulte opened the scoring for the Grizzlies in the opening frame with a two-run homer to center field, putting Butler on top 2-0. With the homer, Schulte moved past Kate James (38 HRs, 2013-14) to become the Grizzlies' career leader in home runs.

Howard scored a run on an RBI single by Evelyn Loyola in the bottom of the frame, but Butler answered with the bats by hitting three home runs during the eight-run second inning.

Allison Jurgensen led off the inning with a double to left-center, then Celina Sullivan blasted a two-run shot to left. Butler would load the bases behind two walks and a Ki'Audra Hayter single. Schulte then drilled a grand slam to left field to give Butler an 8-0 lead.

After Brynn Minor singled to left, Darrianne Hale clubbed a two-run home run to left-center for the third homer of the inning.

Schulte hit her third home run of the game - her 25th of the season and 41st of her career - with a two-run shot to center field as Butler took a 12-1 lead.

Alexis Reed added a solo homer in the fourth inning, then pinch hitter Caylie Kifer tacked on a two-run home run in the fifth.

Along with Schulte's performance, Hayter went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and two stolen bases. Kenzie Young added two runs with two walks.

Brynn Minor improved to 12-0 overall on the season, throwing three innings and allowing just one unearned run on three hits with two strikeouts. Sullivan tossed a shutout inning in the fourth, while Hale closed the game and gave up two hits - including a two-run home run by Madoline Seumalo.

NOTES: The 15 runs set a Grizzly school record for most runs scored in a NJCAA Tournament game... Butler now has 125 home runs on the season, which ranks first among all NJCAA D-I teams... Schulte now has hit three home runs in a game twice this season. Brynn Minor also hit three in a game against Pratt on March 3... Schulte became the first Grizzly to drive in 100 runs in a season, moving to 104 with the eight RBI in today's game... Butler improved to 13-12 all-time in NJCAA National Tournament games and have won seven straight tourney games...  Butler is one homer away from matching last year's tournament mark of eight home runs. The Grizzlies hit eight in five tournament games last season, which is a school-record mark.