DODGE CITY, Kan. — Butler softball head coach Doug Chance picked up his 600th victory as the fifth-ranked Grizzlies remained undefeated in conference play with a run-rule doubleheader sweep of Dodge City at Legends Field.
Chance reached the milestone victory in the first game as Butler (37-3 overall, 22-0 conference) limited the Conquistadors to just one hit in a 17-0 five-inning victory. Butler then completed the sweep with a 17-7 win to extend its winning streak to 28 games, matching the second-longest streak in program history.
With the two wins, Butler also ran its school-record regular-season conference winning streak to 69 games. The Grizzlies, who are seeking their 11th Jayhawk West Conference title under Chance and 14th overall, have just six conference games left and are three games ahead of Seward County in the league standings.
The Grizzlies will head to Great Bend on Monday to face Barton in the final road conference doubleheader of the regular season. First pitch from Cougar Field is at 2:00 p.m. Butler will then finish out the conference regular season with home doubleheaders against Pratt on Wednesday and Seward County on Saturday.
Game 1 - Butler 17, Dodge City 0 (5 innings)
Butler sent 15 batters to the plate during an 11-run third inning, which helped the Grizzlies put away Dodge City in the opener. Sophomore starter Celina Sullivan also continued to Jayhawk Conference opponents as she ran her consecutive shutout inning streak to 33, throwing three innings of no-hit ball and striking out seven batters.
In the first inning, Brianna Robinson provided the opening runs for Butler with a two-run home run that bounced off the top, then over the left-center field fence.
Three consecutive singles started the Grizzlies' 11-run third, beginning with singles from Shalee Brantley and Kenzie Young. Robinson then drove in Brantley with a single through the left side of the infield.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Abi Cole hit a sacrifice fly to score Young from third base. After another walk to re-load the bases, Sullivan hit a two-run single to right that scored both Robinson and Alexis Reed for a 6-0 lead.
Butler took advantage of a pair of Dodge miscues later in the inning, as Reagan Wilson scored from third base on a wild pitch. With Sullivan at third base, another wild pitch came on a walk to Caylie Kifer walk, who ran to second on a slow retrieval of the ball. A throw to second in an attempt to get Kifer failed and Sullivan sneaked home on the play.
Pacher followed with an RBI single to score Kifer, then Brantley and Young hit consecutive RBI doubles. Butler then began to unload the bench, as Allison Jurgensen and Sara Mitchell had back-to-back RBI singles to cap the scoring in the third.
Sullivan (14-1) left the game after striking out the side in third inning and had recorded five consecutive strikeouts.
Butler added four more runs in the fourth after Nykiah Hines led off the inning with a stand-up triple. Payton Reynolds and Tamarah Mascher followed with RBI singles, while Jurgensen added a two-run single up the middle.
Robinson threw a perfect inning of relief in the fourth, while Kaylee Burnett allowed just one hit in the fifth. The hit broke up the no-hit bid, as Dodge's Jade Brallier hit a one-out single through the left side of the infield. Burnett recovered to retire the final two batters for Butler's 13th shutout overall this season and Chance's 600th win.
Young, Robinson and Jurgensen each went 2-for-2 at the plate for Butler, who finished with 15 hits as a team. Young scored three runs with an RBI, while Robinson and Jurgensen each drove in three runs.
Game 2 - Butler 17, Dodge City 7 (5 innings)
Butler jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening frame behind Alexis Reed's team-high 16th home run of the season. Paige Pacher led off with a walk, advanced to third on a stolen base and throwing error, then scored on a Shalee Brantley groundout. After a Kenzie Young single and Brianna Robinson walk, Reed hammered a three-run homer to left.
Dodge answered with two runs in the bottom of the first on a throwing error and RBI single. With Brittany Gonzalez at second base, Butler starter Maddie Siemer fielded a comebacker by Caley Best. However, Siemer's throw to first sailed over Reed's head, allowing Gonzalez to score. Siemer recorded two outs, then allowed a run-scoring single to Jade Brallier.
Caylie Kifer and Pacher led off Butler's second with consecutive singles, then Brantley scored both runners with a two-run double to center. Robinson put the Grizzlies up 7-2 with an RBI single to drive in Brantley.
Butler then kept the offensive pressure on with a six-run third inning. Anngie Salinas and Reagan Wilson opened the inning with back-to-back walks, then Kifer smacked her first home run of the season to left field for a 10-2 Grizzly lead.
After a Dodge pitching change, Pacher singled to left and went to third when the ball skipped past Conquistadors' left fielder Bailey Jo Hiser. Brantley singled to score Pacher, then Young added a third consecutive single in the inning. Two batters later, Reed doubled up the middle to plate both Pacher and Young for a 13-2 lead after 2 1/2 innings.
Dodge City climbed back into the contest with five runs over the next two innings, beginning with three runs off courtesy of a fielder's choice, a wild pitch and a throwing error. With the bases loaded and one out, Leslie Ortiz grounded to second to bring in a run. After a hit batter to re-load the bases, Siemer threw a wild pitch that allowed another run, then an error on a throw back to Siemer at the plate brought in the third run.
The Conqs loaded the bases again to begin the fourth on two singles and a walk against reliever Kaylee Burnett. Jordyn McDaniel then singled to drive in a run, while another run scored on a fielding error. Burnett then avoided further damage by getting three straight swinging strikeouts.
Up 13-7 in the fifth, Butler added four insurance runs all with two outs. With the bases loaded, Meghan Gutierrez scored from third base on a wild pitch, then Nykiah Hines drove in two runs on a double to left. Mascher added an RBI double to left-center to score Hines.
With the Grizzlies up by 10 and the run-rule in effect, Robinson then finished the game by throwing a shutout inning.
Siemer improved to 16-2 on the season, allowing three earned runs on two hits in three innings of work. The sophomore righthander walked four batters and struck out five.
Offensively, Butler's top five hitters in the lineup - Pacher, Brantley, Young, Robinson and Reed - combined to go 9-of-12 from the plate. Pacher had two hits with three runs scored, while Brantley was 2-for-3 with four RBI. Young and Reed both had two hits, with Reed driving in a game-high five runs.
NOTES: Butler has now scored 10 runs in an inning four times this season, with three of them coming against Dodge City. In a 30-2 victory back on March 6 in El Dorado, the Grizzlies scored 10 runs in the third and added a season-high 16 in the fourth... With her home run in Game 2, Reed moved into fifth place all-time in career home runs (25) and ninth in career RBI (104). The sophomore, who went 2-for-4 in the doubleheader, also leads the team with a .512 batting average... During her current 33-inning shutout streak, Sullivan has struck out 62 batters and allowed just six hits, With three shutout innings, Sullivan dropped her ERA to 0.85, which ranks fifth among all NJCAA D-I pitchers. She currently leads the nation with 11.73 strikeouts per 7 innings... With five runs scored in the doubleheader, Young now has 150 total runs scored in her Butler career and is seven runs back behind career-leader Becca Schulte (157, 2016-17).