No. 1 Butler clinches seventh straight Jayhawk West title

No. 1 Butler clinches seventh straight Jayhawk West title

Butler softball clinched its seventh straight Jayhawk West championship on Monday with a pair of run-rule victories over Seward County at East Park.

The top-ranked Grizzlies (42-0 overall, 18-0 conference) defeated Seward County 10-2 to win Game 1, then cruised to a 10-1 victory over the Saints 10-1 in the second game. Both contests went five innings.

The Jayhawk West championship is the Grizzlies' 13th overall in program history. Butler has won 10 conference titles in the last 12 seasons under head coach Doug Chance.

With the two wins, Butler extended its overall winning streak to 80 straight games. The Grizzlies added on to their school-record winning streaks in conference (41), overall home (40), and regular-season home conference (33).

Butler also set a school record for most home runs in a single season (90), breaking an 11-year mark set back in 2007. The Grizzlies came into the doubleheader just three homers back from tying the record. Darrianne Hale's two-run home run in the fourth inning of the second game broke the team mark.

With the two run-rule wins against Seward County, Butler now has 23 run-rule victories on the season and 19 in the last 21 games. The school record for most wins by run-rule is 25, set during last year's national title run. Butler, who leads the nation with 11.1 runs per game, has scored at least eight runs in the last 21 games. Out of the Grizzlies' 18 conference wins this season, 16 have been run-rule victories.

Butler will be on the road Wednesday for a doubleheader at Garden City beginning at 2:00 p.m. The Grizzlies will also play two games at Seward County on Friday, then return home to host Barton for the regular-season home finale on Saturday.

Game 1 - Butler 10, Seward County 2 (5 innings)

Seward County took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Jordan Garrison solo home run off Butler starter Regan Mergele. The Saints' lead marked just the second time that the Grizzlies trailed in a conference contest.

The Saints added another run in the third when Leena Mortensen singled up the middle to score Garrison.

Butler got on the board in the bottom of the inning with four runs in the bottom of the inning, beginning with a leadoff solo home run from Ki'Audra Hayter. After Kenzie Young and Becca Schulte both singled, Brynn Minor doubled off the wall in left to drive in both runners. Darrianne Hale followed with an RBI single through the left side to score Minor.

In the fourth, Young hit an RBI single to score Paige Pacher. Two batters later, Hayter scored from third base when Minor reached first on a fielding error to put Butler up 6-2.

Butler ended the contest with four runs in the fifth inning. Hayter smacked a two-run triple to left-center to plate both Caylie Kifer and pinch runner Beanie Luttig. Young then doubled to center to score Hayter. After a wild pitch moved Young to third, Schulte singled over Seward third baseman Kristyna Garcia to score Young for the run-rule win.

Hayter led the Grizzlies' offense by going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBI, while Young was 3-for-3 with two RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. Minor was 1-for-2 with three runs driven in.

Mergele ran her record to 20-0 on the season. The sophomore righthander gave up two earned runs on four hits, walked two and struck out five in the win. Minor finished the game with a shutout inning, allowing just one baserunner on an error.

Game 2 - Butler 10, Seward County 1 (5 innings)

Butler jumped out in front 3-0 after the first inning. Brynn Minor extended her hitting streak to 26 games with an RBI double to drive in the game's first run, scoring Kenzie Young. Darrianne Hale then slugged her 13th home run of the season - a two-run blast to center field.

Young's solo home run to left in the third inning was the Grizzlies' 89th home run of the season, tying the school record for most homers in a single season.

Seward broke the shutout win in the top of the fourth inning when Kristyna Garcia hit a solo homer off the top of the center field wall and over the fence.

Up 4-1, Butler would put together a six-run inning in the bottom-half of the fourth. With one out and the bases loaded, Young hit a sacrifice fly to score Celina Sullivan from third base. Becca Schulte hit a two-run single to left to drive in Paige Pacher and Ki'Audra Hayter.

Minor hit her second double of the contest to score Schulte, then Hale hit a towering two-run shot to left to set the Grizzlies' single-season team home run record.

Hale was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and four RBI, while Young went 2-for-2 with two RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. Minor hit 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBI.

Celina Sullivan (7-0) was credited with the win, going four innings and giving up one earned run on four hits and striking out five. Minor closed the contest with a perfect inning.

NOTES: With a 3-for-5 performance in the doubleheader, Minor improved her batting average to .492 on the season. During her current 26-game hitting streak, Minor is hitting .597 (46-of-77) with 17 home runs, 54 runs batted in, 42 runs scored and 12 doubles... With two earned runs allowed in Game 1, Mergele had her earned-run average bumped to 0.55, placing her second among NJCAA Division I pitchers behind Morgan Goree (0.53) of Chipola, Fla... Butler leads all NJCAA Division I teams in batting average (.421), on-base percentage (.495) and slugging percentage (.750). With 90 home runs, the Grizzlies are two behind Angelina, Texas (92) and one back of Grayson, Texas (91) for the NJCAA lead. Butler also ranks third in runs batted in (438) and runs scored (469). The Grizzlies continue to lead the nation in runs scored per game (11.1).