ST. GEORGE, Utah – Butler softball has advanced to the NJCAA Division I National Championship game for the second consecutive year after defeating No. 2 Salt Lake (UT) 9-3 in Friday's semifinals at Canyon Softball Complex.
The Grizzlies (57-1) scored six runs in the second inning to break a scoreless tie, then added three insurance runs in the fourth to secure a title berth. Kenzie Young went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and four RBI, while Brynn Minor tossed a complete-game six-hitter.
Butler will have a chance to repeat as national champions when they play in Saturday's title game at 1:00 p.m. CST against the winner of Salt Lake and Florida Southwestern State.
Alexis Reed opened the scoring for Butler with a two-run single through the right side of the infield, which scored Minor and pinch runner Nykiah Hines. Later in the inning, Young doubled to left to drive in Reed and Paige Pacher.
In the third, Salt Lake took advantage of a two-out error and put two runners on for Alex Valencia, who hit a three-run home run to left for the Bruins' only runs.
Butler grabbed three runs back in the fourth on a Hayter RBI single that scored Celina Sullivan. Young then blasted a two-run home run to left to cap the scoring.
Minor (13-0) picked up her second win of the tournament, giving up three unearned runs on six hits and striking out two.
Both Minor and Allison Jurgensen had two hits each for Butler, while Hayter scored two runs.
NOTES: Butler is now 15-12 all-time in NJCAA Tournament games and 2-0 in winner's bracket semifinal contests… Minor dropped her earned-run average to 1.10, which gives Butler three pitchers ranked in the top seven among NJCAA D-I teams. Regan Mergele ranks first with an 0.56 ERA, while Sullivan (0.95) and Minor rank fifth and seventh, respectively… Schulte has 107 runs batted in and is two away from tying Natalie David of Wabash Valley for the NJCAA RBI leader… Butler has scored at least nine runs in each of the four tournament victories and is averaging 10.5 runs per game.