Softball stays perfect in conference play with sweep of Garden

Softball stays perfect in conference play with sweep of Garden

GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Butler softball extended its winning streak to 14 games while remaining undefeated in Jayhawk Conference play with a doubleheader sweep of Garden City on Monday at Tangeman Sports Complex.

The 13th-ranked Grizzlies (23-3 overall, 10-0 conference) took the first game by a 14-9 score, then completed the sweep with a 8-3 victory in Game 2.

Butler, winners of 57 straight regular season conference games dating back to 2016, will have a key home doubleheader against Seward County on Wednesday beginning at 2:00 p.m. at East Park. Butler and Seward are tied atop the conference standings at 10-0.

Game 1 - Butler 14, Garden City 9

Butler jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning behind RBI singles from Payton Reynolds and Alexis Reed.

After Garden's Erica Vessels hit a solo home run in the bottom of the inning, the Grizzlies grabbed the run back when Makensey Pankers scored from third base on a Kenzie Young infield single.

In the third, Allison Jurgensen put Butler up 4-1 with an RBI single just inside the left field line, which scored pinch runner Meghan Gutierrez.

Grizzly starter Celina Sullivan recorded seven straight strikeouts - including a rare four-K feat in the second inning as Garden had a runner reach base after swinging a third strike on a passed ball to open the frame. Sullivan exited after the third, but would later return to finish out the game. 

Butler busted the game open with five runs in the fourth inning, beginning with a three-run home run to center from Reed. Abi Cole also hit an RBI triple to score Pankers, then Sara Mitchell followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in Cole.

Up 9-4 after four innings, Butler added three more runs in the fifth with an RBI single from Reed and a two-run single by Pankers.

Garden City avoided the run-rule loss by loading the bases to open the home-half of the fifth, then scored a run on a groundout.

Brianna Robinson smacked a two-run homer to center field in the sixth inning to give Butler a 14-5 lead, but the Busters kept the game going with a two-run home run by Taylore Hartman in the bottom of the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Garden managed to load the bases with one out against Reynolds, who then issued a walk to bring in a run. Sullivan re-entered the game at pitcher, and after another bases-loaded walk to put the game-tying run on the on-deck circle, managed to end the contest with a strikeout and groundout.

Sullivan (7-1) threw 3 2/3 innings and finished with eight strikeouts, while giving up one run on one hit and walked one.

Reed led Butler offensively by going 3-for-5 with five RBI, while the Grizzlies finished with 20 hits as a team - reaching the mark for the third time in a game this season.

Game 2 - Butler 8, Garden City 3

Both teams were scoreless after three innings before Butler broke the tie with a five-run fourth inning. Payton Reynolds opened the scoring with a two-run home run to left field, then Allison Jurgensen later followed with an RBI single up the middle to score Brianna Robinson.

With Butler up 3-0 and Caylie Kifer batting, Alexis Reed scored from third base on a wild pitch, then Kifer drove in Jurgensen with a single to left.

The Grizzlies added three more runs in the fifth to take an 8-0 lead, starting with a Reed sacrifice fly to score Kenzie Young from third base. Butler managed to load the bases for Anngie Salinas, who hit a line drive that was dropped by the Garden rightfielder, allowing two runs to score.

Butler would not score again, while Garden City avoided another run-rule defeat by scoring a run on a Erica Vessels double in the fifth. The Busters added a run each in the last two innings, getting RBI singles from Devin Hernandez and Ariel Denny.

Maddie Siemer (9-2) received the win by throwing four shutout innings, allowing just two hits with one walk and striking out six.

NOTES: Butler has won 10 straight games against Garden City, matching the longest winning streak against the Busters under head coach Doug Chance. The Grizzlies won 10 straight beginning from May 6, 2012 to April 24, 2014... The nine runs scored by Garden City in the first game were the most allowed by Butler to a conference opponent in a regular-season game since Barton scored 11 back on March 26, 2015.