ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. — Butler softball had its 34-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday with a 13-11 eight-inning Game 1 loss at Cowley, but rebounded for a doubleheader split by winning 8-5 in the nightcap.
In the opening game, Butler (44-4 overall, 28-0 conference) held a 10-6 lead after 5 1/2 innings, but allowed four runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Grizzlies grabbed a one-run lead in extra innings, but Cowley scored four runs - ending the game with a two-run homer to center by Lindsay Webb.
Butler turns its attention to the postseason as the Grizzlies will face Pratt in Friday's opening round of the Region VI Division I Tournament in Dodge City. First pitch from Legends Field is 1:00 p.m. The Region VI tourney winner will host the Region IX winner in a best-of-three series for the District E championship on May 9-10, with the district winner advancing to the NJCAA National Tournament in St. George, Utah.
Game 1 - Cowley 13, Butler 11 (8 innings)
Cowley took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, getting a two-out, two-run single to right field from Ashton Friend. Butler would get on the scoreboard the following inning when Reagan Wilson hit a high fly ball that went off the glove of Tigers left fielder Taylor Hinnenkamp. Wilson was able to score standing up on the play, as the relay throw was offline.
Butler then scored five runs in the third, with the offense jumpstarted by three consecutive singles. With one out, Shalee Brantley and Brianna Robinson singled, then Alexis Reed singled up the middle to score a sliding Brantley to tie the game.
After Abi Cole was hit with a pitch to load the bases, Wilson hit a hard infield single that bounced off Cowley second baseman La'Tayliah Perez, allowing pinch runners Nykiah Hines and Jordan Carlson to score. Caylie Kifer added a two-out single to center to bring in Cole and Wilson for a 6-2 Butler lead.
Cowley chipped away at Butler's lead, scoring twice in each of the fourth and fifth innings to force a 6-6 tie.
In the Tigers' fourth, Friend led off the inning with a walk, then scored on an Kaci Hilty RBI double. Butler starter Celina Sullivan recorded consecutive strikeouts, but issued two walks to load the bases for Perez, who hit an infield single to score Hilty.
Webb then hit a two-run home run off Sullivan just over the left-field fence to tie the game.
The Grizzlies roared back with a four-run sixth inning, getting a three-run home run to left by Robinson and an RBI single from Sullivan for a 10-6 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Butler went to Robinson in the circle, who failed to record an out after four batters. Hinnenkamp led off with a walk, then scored on a Brianna Fuchs triple. After another walk, Heidi Nitsch doubled to center to drive in two runs. Robinson was pulled for Megan Johnson, who allowed the tying run to score on a bunt and throwing error before getting three straight outs to end the inning.
Butler went down in order in the seventh, while Cowley managed to load the bases with one out. Johnson was able to send the game into extra innings, getting a shallow flyout to center and groundout to end the inning.
With international tiebreakers (courtesy runner at second base) in effect to start the eighth inning, Reed put Butler in front 11-10 with a line drive double to left-center to score Brantley. The Grizzlies would load the bases with two outs, but could not add to the lead.
Cowley tied the game again in the eighth on a one-out single by Hilty to drive in Randi Hamilton, then Webb hammered a two-run homer to center to end the game.
Robinson finished 3-for-5 with three RBI to lead Butler, who finished with 13 hits in the contest. Brantley scored three times, while Reed, Wilson and Kifer each drove in two runs.
Johnson (5-1) suffered her first loss of the season, allowing two earned runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings. Sullivan struck out six batters in the starting role, but served up six runs on six hits in five innings, while Robinson gave up four earned runs on two hits.
Game 2 - Butler 8, Cowley 5
Butler trailed 4-3 after five innings before taking the lead with a three-run sixth, then the Grizzlies added two insurance runs in the seventh inning.
Celina Sullivan tied the game for Butler in the sixth with a pinch-hit single to center with one out to score Payton Reynolds. With runners at the corners, Caylie Kifer scored from third bases on a Shalee Brantley groundout. Brianna Robinson then followed with a two-run double to left to bring in Paige Pacher and Brantley.
In the Butler seventh, Abi Cole led off with a single to right, then scored on a Reagan Wilson double to center. Reynolds followed with a single to move Wilson to third, then stole second to put both runners in scoring position. With Anngie Salinas batting, Wilson scored on a wild pitch to give the Grizzlies an 8-4 lead.
Cowley threatened in the seventh after getting two consecutive walks and an RBI single by Lindsay Webb. However, Cole dove behind the circle to rob Skyler Maga of a hit, then threw to first base to get Webb for a double play. Cole then caught the final out on a Abigail Parks pop-up to secure the win for Butler.
Butler opened the game with a Kifer RBI single to center to score Reynolds in the second, but Cowley responded with an RBI single by Webb. In the top of the third, Wilson put the Grizzlies up 3-1 with a two-run single that scored Alexis Reed and Cole.
However, Cowley answered right back in the bottom of the inning as Heidi Nistch scored from first on a Randi Hamilton bunt and throwing error by Grizzly pitcher Maddie Siemer. Ashton Friend then hit a two-run homer to put the Tigers in front 4-3.
Siemer (18-2) allowed just one baserunner over the next two innings, then had back-to-back strikeouts in the sixth as Cowley left two runners in scoring position. The sophomore righthander matched a season-high with eight strikeouts while giving up four earned runs on eight hits.
Robinson and Reynolds each had three hits, while Cole and Reynolds scored twice in the contest.
NOTES: This was the first meeting between Butler and Cowley in Arkansas City under Grizzly head coach Doug Chance, as both teams played each other in a home-and-home series during the 2004 season... Butler's 34-game winning streak ranks second all-time in the program history behind the 88-game win streak that spanned over the Grizzlies' 2016 and 2017 national title seasons... The loss to Cowley also snapped a 16-game road winning streak, which ranks third all-time at Butler. Since 2016, the Grizzlies are 45-4 in road games.