No. 1 Butler sets conference mark for best start to season

No. 1 Butler sets conference mark for best start to season

MAIZE, Kan. - A two-week layoff did not slow the Butler softball squad down, as the top-ranked Grizzlies set a Jayhawk Conference record for the best start to a season with a sweep of Friends University JV on Sunday at Maize High School.

The Grizzlies (32-0 overall, 8-0 conference) set the mark in the opening game with an 8-1 win over Friends, which broke a 15-year old conference record (Cowley, 30 wins, 2002). Butler then run-ruled the Falcons 20-4 behind a 20-hit attack.

With the doubleheader sweep, Butler has now won 70 straight games dating back to last season. The Grizzlies also extended their home winning streak to 34 consecutive games.

Butler will next be in action on Wednesday with a road conference doubleheader at Seward County (33-12, 8-2), who currently sits in second place in the Jayhawk West standings.

Game 1 - Butler 8, Friends JV 1

Butler jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening frame when Becca Schulte hit a two-run home run to center.

The Grizzlies added three more runs in the third behind a pir of singles. With the bases loaded, Brynn Minor singled to right to score Ki'Audra Hayter. Two batters later, Allison Jurgensen singled through the left side to drive in Kenzie Young and Schulte.

With Butler leading 5-1 in the fourth, Minor clubbed a three-run homer to left-center.

Minor led the Grizzlies offensively with four RBI while going 2-for-3 at the plate. Young and Schulte scored three runs each, scoring six of Butler's eight runs.

Regan Mergele picked up her 14th win of the season, tossing four innings without allowing a hit. Mergele also struck out eight batters, but gave up one run and walked four. The run allowed was just her third earned run allowed on the season. Despite the run, Mergele remained ranked first among NJCAA Division I pitchers with a 0.31 earned-run average.

Game 2 - Butler 20, Friends JV 4 (5 innings)

The Grizzlies scored six runs on seven hits in the second inning to take a 6-0 lead against Friends.

Butler opened the inning with three straight singles, with Allison Jurgensen singling up the middle to score Brynn Minor. Two batters later, Beanie Luttig hit a two-run single up the middle to drive in Darrianne Hale and Minor.

Kenzie Young added a two-run single which brought in Luttig and Paige Pacher, then Becca Schulte capped the scoring with an RBI single to score Young.

Friends pulled within two runs with a four-run third inning, with C. Marlnee providing the big hit - a three-run double to left off Butler starter Darrianne Hale.

The Grizzlies answered with a 10-run inning in the bottom of the frame, as Jurgensen began the scoring with an RBI double to right-center to score Nykiah Hines. Alexis Reed followed with a single to left-center to plate Jurgensen, then Luttig hammered a two-run home run down the left-field line to put Butler up 10-4.

Paige Pacher then walked, stole both second and third, then came home on a throwing error on the steal. After Friends recorded the first out, Schulte doubled to left to score Ki'Audra Hayter, then Brynn Minor hit her team-high 17th home run of the season - a two-run shot to left. Jurgensen and pinch-hitter Chloe Holman added RBIs to complete the 10-run inning.

Butler added four more runs in the fourth, beginning with a Tamarah Mascher two-run single through the middle of the infield to score Schulte and Reagan Wilson. Holman and Pacher later added RBI singles in the inning.

Schulte, Jurgensen and Pacher each had three hits for Butler, while Luttig led the Grizzlies with four RBI. Jurgensen also scored three times and drove in three runs. Five players (Schulte, Minor, Celina Sullivan, Luttig and Pacher) scored two runs each.

Hale recorded the win with three innings, allowing four unearned runs on seven hits and striking out two. Sullivan struck out all three batters she faced in the fourth, while Maddie Siemer completed the sweep with a shutout inning.