The Butler softball team will play for the Region VI championship after holding off Barton in a 4-3 thriller Wednesday night at East Park.
The No. 6-ranked Grizzlies (45-4) will play at 2 p.m. against either No. 9 Barton, Dodge City or Colby. Dodge City will play Colby at 10 a.m. at East Park with the winner playing Barton at noon. The winner of that game will then face Butler.
Butler is the only undefeated team remaining in the tournament, meaning the Grizzlies will have to lose twice to surrender the title.
Butler 4, Barton 3
In a matchup of nationally-ranked teams, Butler fell behind 3-0 in the top of the fourth when Barton strung together four hits, including a solo home run by Brittany Wood.
Butler then took advantage of two errors Barton errors in the bottom of the fifth to score two more runs. The game-winning run came on a bloop single into left by Becca Schulte to score Alexis Clinton from third base.
Regan Mergele threw the first five innings of the game, allowing two earned runs while striking out nine. The win makes her 22-3 on the season. Brynn Minor threw the final two innings, working around a leadoff runner on third in the top of the sixth and throwing a three-up, three-down inning in the seventh. The save is her fourth of the season and drops her ERA to 0.55, which leads the nation.
Schulte led the Grizzlies offensively, going 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored, while Bohanan was 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles.
Butler 6, Dodge City 0
In the Grizzlies' first game of the tournament, Butler jumped out to a 3-0 lead early and then cruised behind shutout pitching from Jennifer Hittinger and Brynn Minor.
Minor hit a three-run homer clearing the centerfield fence in the first inning, scoring Becca Schulte and Morgan Bohanan to put Butler up 3-0.
In the third, Megan Wurts created a run by stealing second. The throw from the catcher sailed into center, allowing Wurts to take third, then scoring on a wild throw from centerfield.
Wurts then showed her power in the fifth inning, hitting a two-run homer that made it a 6-0 game.
Hittinger threw five shutout innings, allowing just three hits while striking out eight to improve to 20-1 overall on the season. Minor threw the final two innings, striking out four.