No. 5 Butler hammers Pratt to clinch 14th Jayhawk West title

No. 5 Butler hammers Pratt to clinch 14th Jayhawk West title

Butler softball clinched its 14th Jayhawk West Conference title in program history with a run-rule doubleheader sweep of Pratt on Wednesday at East Park.

Behind four home runs and a 10-strikeout performance by NJCAA Pitcher of the Week Celina Sullivan in the first game, Butler shut out Pratt 8-0 in five innings. Brianna Robinson then hit two home runs and drove in four runs as the Grizzlies defeated the Beavers 10-1 in another run-rule five-inning contest.

The conference title is the eighth straight won by Butler and 11th title in the past 13 seasons. With the championship, the fifth-ranked Grizzlies will be the top seed in the Region VI Division I Tournament, which runs April 27-29 in Dodge City.

Winners of 32 straight games, Butler (41-3 overall, 26-0 conference) continued its domination of conference opponents by extending the regular season conference streak to 71 straight games. 

The Grizzlies will host Seward County on Friday in the home regular season finale at 2:00 p.m.

Game 1 – Butler 8, Pratt 0 (5 innings)

Butler hit four home runs in a run-rule win over the Beavers, beginning with a two-run homer by Celina Sullivan in the bottom of the second inning.

Sullivan added an RBI single to score Brianna Robinson to open a four-run third inning. Two batters later, Reagan Wilson hit a three-run home run to give Butler a 6-0 lead.

The Grizzlies added two solo homers in the fourth inning, beginning with a solo homer down the left-field line from Kenzie Young with one out. Two batters later, Alexis Reed slugged her team-high 18th home run of the season on a solo shot to center field.

Sullivan (16-1) threw four shutout innings, allowing just one hit and walking two with 10 strikeouts. Robinson finished the game with a shutout inning, giving up one hit and fanning one batter.

Offensively, Sullivan went 2-for-2 with three RBI and two runs scored, while Reed went 2-for-3 and scored twice.

Game 2 - Butler 10, Pratt 1 (5 innings)

The Grizzlies continued to use the long ball in the second game, as Kenzie Young and Brianna Robinson hit back-to-back solo homers with two outs in the first inning.

Butler then exploded with a seven-run second inning to take a 9-0 lead over the Beavers. The Grizzlies started the scoring with runners at the corners for Anngie Salinas, who hammered a line drive double to left-center to score Abi Cole. A wild pitch to Caylie Kifer on a ball four allowed Payton Reynolds to score from third base.

With one out in the second, Shalee Brantley reached first on an infield single to drive in Salinas. Two batters later, Robinson crushed a three-run homer - her 16th of the season - to center field. Cole finished the scoring for Butler with an RBI triple to right field to drive in Alexis Reed.

After Pratt scored on an RBI single by Lexi Sanborn in the third, Butler added the run back in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Anna Williams walked, then moved to third on a Meghan Gutierrez double. Tamarah Mascher then reached first base on a dropped ball on a tag by Pratt first baseman Sanborn, which scored Williams.

Butler starter Megan Johnson (5-0) allowed just one earned run on three hits in the victory, while Maddie Siemer struck out five batters and gave up just one hit in two shutout innings.

NOTES: Young's home run in Game 2 marked her 157th career run, which matches Becca Schulte (2016-17) for most career runs scored by a Grizzly. Young is also two RBI from tying Kate James for third all-time with 132 (2013-14)... Reed now ranks fourth in career home runs with 27, moving past Robyn Sadowski (2005-06). She also passed Sadowski for fifth place in single-season home runs with 18.