Butler softball sweeps Indian Hills in Top 20 matchup

Butler softball sweeps Indian Hills in Top 20 matchup

In a matchup of NJCAA Top 20-ranked teams, No. 18 Butler won a home doubleheader sweep over No. 20 Indian Hills (IA) in non-conference action Friday at East Park.

Butler (15-3 overall, 4-0 conference) overcame a two-run early deficit to win Game 1 by a 9-6 score behind home runs from Brianna Robinson and Kenzie Young. In Game 2, freshman Abi Cole's two-run home run in the sixth inning was the difference as the Grizzlies won 6-4 for the sweep.

Butler will host NJCAA Division II North Iowa Area (7-3) on Saturday, with the non-conference doubleheader getting underway at 2:00 p.m.

Game 1 - Butler 9, Indian Hills 6

The Grizzlies fell behind 2-0 after the top of the opening frame, as Indian Hills received a solo home run to center by Erin Kuba and an Alexis Westercamp sacrifice fly.

In the bottom of the inning, Butler managed to put runners at the corners with two outs for Brianna Robinson, who clubbed a 3-2 pitch over the left-field scoreboard to give the Grizzlies a 3-2 lead.

After allowing consecutive walks with two outs in the second, Grizzly starter Celina Sullivan settled down to shut down the Indian Hills offense by retiring 12 straight batters.

Butler was able to pad its lead when Kenzie Young added a two-run home run just inside the left-field foul pole for a 5-2 Grizzly lead.

The Grizzlies did not score again until the fifth inning, when Payton Reynolds singled to center to load the bases. On the play, the throw back into the infield skipped past the catcher, which allowed Caylie Kifer to score from third base.

Butler added three more insurance runs for a 9-2 lead in the sixth. Kifer hit an RBI single to right-center to score Abi Cole, then Young doubled to right to drive in Kifer. Reagan Wilson drove in the final Grizzly run with a single to right-center to plate Young.

Indian Hills made a late rally off Sullivan, getting a three-run home run from Kuna and a Lexi Smith solo home run with just one out. Sullivan ended the contest by getting a groundout and a strikeout to improve to 3-1 on the season.

Offensively, Young was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and three RBI, while Kifer went 2-for-3, three runs scored and an RBI. Robinson matched Young with three runs driven in with the three-run home run.

Sullivan tossed her second complete game of the season, allowing six earned runs on six hits, walking four and striking out six.

Game 2 - Butler 6, Indian Hills 4

Butler jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one inning, beginning when Kenzie Young singled, advanced to third on a Reagan Wilson single and scored on a fielding error. Payton Reynolds then followed with a two-run homer to left field.

Indian Hills rallied back with three two-out runs in the fourth inning off Megan Johnson. Helaina Johnson drove in two runs with a single through the right side, then the Warriors pulled off a delayed double steal as Johnson stole home before Butler picked off a runner at first base for the final out.

Butler went back in front 4-3 in the fifth when Young homered to left field, but Indian Hills answered with a Johnson RBI single to score Cheyanne Bergert.

In Butler's half of the sixth inning, Brianna Robinson led off with a walk, then Paige Pacher came in to pinch run. After pinch hitter Nykiah Hines struck out on a third-strike bunt attempt, Abi Cole crushed the first pitch delivery over the left field fence for a 6-4 Butler lead.

Indian Hills managed a leadoff single to start the seventh against Celina Sullivan, but the sophomore righthander recorded a flyout and two straight strikeouts to end the game.

Cole, Wilson and Young led the Grizzlies' offense with two hits each. Young went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Cole was 2-for-3 with two RBI.

Sullivan improved to 4-1, getting both wins in the doubleheader sweep. In just 1 1/3 innings of work, Sullivan allowed just one hit and struck out two batters. Johnson, who came in relief of starter Maddie Siemer in the first inning, went 5 1/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on eight hits with one strikeout.

Siemer faced just two batters before leaving the game after absorbing a line drive to the face, losing a tooth in the process but was able to walk off the field.