ST. GEORGE, Utah - Not even two weather delays could keep top-ranked Butler softball from winning its opening-round game at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament on Wednesday, as the Grizzlies run-ruled No. 16 Snead State (Ala.) 9-1 in five innings.
With the win, Butler (54-1) matched the school record for most victories in a single season (2013). The Grizzlies advanced to Thursday's second round to face No. 9 Howard, Texas (47-12) at 3:30 p.m. CST. Howard defeated Tyler, Texas, 12-6 in first round play.
The start of the game was delayed an hour due to rain in warmups, then another 50 minute delay occurred after Butler took a 5-1 lead after three innings.
Snead State scored its lone run in the third when Alexis Bates scored from third on a wild pitch. Bates opened the inning with a walk, advanced to second on a single and moved to third on a fielder's choice.
In the bottom of the third, Becca Schulte hit a two-run double to right-center, then scored from third base on a wild pitch to put the Grizzlies up 5-1.
After the second delay, Butler added three more insurance runs in the fourth. Pinch runner Nykiah Hines scored from second base on a fielding error, then Young and Schulte each hit consecutive RBI doubles to left-center.
Regan Mergele tossed a complete-game four-hitter, throwing five innings and giving up just one earned run while striking out seven batters. Mergele remained perfect on the season as she improved to 27-0.
Schulte led Butler offensively with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate, hitting two doubles and driving in three runs. Young scored three times, while Hayter had two runs and two stolen bases.
NOTES: Butler has won six straight games at the national tournament. The Grizzlies improved to 12-12 all-time in tournament play and 5-3 in first-round games... Butler, who came into the tournament leading all NJCAA D-I teams in home runs with 118, was held without a home run for the first time in nine games.