Butler softball is headed back to the NJCAA National Tournament for the fifth time in the past six years and the seventh time in school history.
Butler swept Western Nebraska by scores of 9-5 and 8-4 to win the District E championship series Wednesday evening and advance to nationals. Butler has now been the District E champion in three of the past four seasons.
The Grizzlies are now 48-4 and have won a school-record 33 consecutive games heading into nationals, which will be held May 18-21 in St. George, Utah.
GAME 1 – Butler 9, Western Nebraska 5
Western Nebraska scored the first two runs of the game on three consecutive singles in the top of the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. Butler then answered with seven runs in the bottom of the inning to take control.
Butler would add runs in the fourth and sixth innings, driven in by Danae Bina and Brynn Minor.
Regan Mergele threw six innings, earning the win that makes her 23-3 on the season. Brynn Minor threw a scoreless top of the seventh to finish the game.
Becca Schulte went 3-for-3 for Butler and was the only player to have multiple hits.
GAME 2 – Butler 8, Western Nebraska 4
Butler was the visiting team on the scoreboard in the second game and was retired in order in the top of the first. In the next inning, Butler got on the board when Tyesha Morgan singled to drive in Brynn Minor. One batter later, Amelia Cutchelow hit a three-run homer to left-center, putting Butler up 4-0.
Western Nebraska would load the bases in the bottom of the second with no outs, but starter Jennifer Hittinger managed to work her way out of the jam, allowing just one run in the inning.
Western got another run back in the bottom of the fifth to make it 4-2.
Butler then tacked on two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh as Danae Bina, Morgan Heckart and Megan Wurts all drove in runs.
Brynn Minor came on in relief of Hittinger in the bottom of the sixth and struck out all three batters she faced. Minor allowed a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh, but a double play set up a game-ending strikeout, sending Butler to nationals.
Hittinger earns the win to improve to 21-1 on the season, allowing one earned run in five innings.
Amelia Cutchelow was 3-for-3 in the game with a home run and a pair of singles. Morgan Heckart and Megan Wurts had two hits apiece.