Behind a 10-run first inning in the opening game, Butler softball set the tone early in Wednesday's run-rule sweep of Independence at East Park.
Butler (28-6 overall, 19-1 conference) cruised to a 15-2 Game 1 win, then powered its way to an 11-3 victory in the second game for its 17th straight conference win. Both contests lasted just five innings, giving the Grizzlies their third straight run-rule doubleheader sweep in conference play and fifth overall this season.
With six conference games remaining, Butler remains atop the Jayhawk East standings over Barton by two games.
The Grizzlies, ranked 11th in this week's NJCAA Division I poll, will return to action on Monday with a non-conference home doubleheader against Iowa Western. First pitch from East Park is at 2:00 p.m.
Game 1 – Butler 15, Independence 2 (5 innings)
After allowing a Cameron Ortiz RBI single to start the game, Butler had 11 of its first 12 batters reach base – including five straight hits to open the bottom of the first.
Following singles by Meghan Gutierrez and Shayna Espy, Brianna Robinson delivered a two-run double to right-center to score both runs. Two batters later, Asia Henry singled through the left side of the infield to plate Robinson for a 3-1 lead.
Makensey Pankers then walked to load the bases for Jordan Carlson, who reached first on a fielder's choice to score Taliya Talley from third base. Independence finally recorded its first out, but the Grizzlies followed with RBI singles from Jaime Barta and Gutierrez. Espy then doubled to left field to score a pair of runs to put Butler up 8-1.
Butler's final two runs were scored on a Talley sacrifice fly to bring in Gutierrez and a two-out throwing error to plate Espy from third base.
Up 10-2 in the bottom of the third, Talley led off the inning with a solo blast to center field. Henry and Pankers followed with solo home runs of their own, giving Butler three consecutive home runs for the first time since April 10, 2018.
The Grizzlies added two more runs in the fourth inning on a Pankers RBI single and a two-out throwing error which scored Henry.
Grizzly starter Megan Johnson (10-2) picked up her team-high 10th victory of the season, allowing two earned runs on five hits in three innings. Cassidi Doyle threw the final two innings, where she gave up just one walk and struck out three batters.
Espy led the Grizzlies with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate and was one of four Grizzlies (Robinson, Henry and Pankers) to score twice and drive in two runs. Henry scored a game-high three runs, while Gutierrez and Talley scored two runs each, giving Butler six players with two runs or more.
Game 2 – Butler 11, Independence 3 (5 innings)
Independence took a 2-0 lead after one inning behind a Kayla Broncho RBI groundout and a dropped fly ball with two outs which scored Kiana Turner.
In the second, Butler loaded the bases with two outs for Shayna Espy, who reached first on a fielding error and scored Anna Williams for the first run. With the bases still loaded, Brianna Robinson clubbed a grand slam home run to left field for her 10th homer of the season – giving Butler three players with 10 or more homers on the year.
Up 5-2 in the third, Butler batted around the lineup for the second time in the doubleheader. Grizzly starting pitcher Olivia DePew led off the inning with a solo homer to right-center – her first of the season.
Later in the inning with two runners in scoring position with one out, Robinson singled up the middle to score Sara Mitchell. Talley then blasted a three-run home run – her team-high 13th of the year – to right field for an 11-2 Grizzly lead.
DePew (7-2) received the victory with three innings, allowing one earned run on three hits and two strikeouts. Both Kaylee Burnett and Cassidi Doyle each threw an inning of relief, with Burnett tossing a perfect inning with two strikeouts. Doyle allowed one earned run on two hits and struck out one batter to end the game.
Robinson was Butler's top offensive performer, going 2-for-3 with five runs batted in and two runs scored. Talley and DePew were the other Grizzlies with two hits each. Taylor Lambert, Williams and Mitchell both scored two runs in addition to Robinson.
NOTES: Butler improved to 9-0 against Independence under head coach Doug Chance… With seven RBIs in the doubleheader, Robinson moved into third place all-time at Butler with 136 career runs batted in, passing both Kate James (132, 2013-14) and Kenzie Young (131, 2017-18). With her 34th career homer in Game 2, Robinson remains two home runs from tying James for third all-time in career home runs… With two hits in the first game, Gutierrez extended her on-base streak to 26 games. She did not have a plate appearance in Game 2… Butler hit three consecutive home runs for the first time since April 10, 2018, when the Grizzlies defeated Northwest Kansas Tech 11-1. In that game, Robinson, Alexis Reed and Abi Cole all hit solo home runs as part of a four-run first inning... For the third straight season, Butler has had at least three players hit 10 or more home runs in the same season - a feat that has now been accomplished seven times under Chance.