FORT WORTH, Texas – In its first tournament of the 2016 season, the Butler softball team went 4-1 at the Cowtown Classic this weekend.
Butler (6-1 overall) opened the Classic with a pair of run-rule wins on Friday, defeating Weatherford (TX) 10-2 in five innings and beating Alvin (TX) 8-0 in six innings. The Grizzlies closed the first day of games with a 7-4 win over Hill (TX). Butler split its two games on Saturday, beating Snead State (AL) 13-2 in five innings, then falling to No. 15 Midland (TX) 7-6 in eight innings.
The sixth-ranked Grizzlies were consistent offensively through the five games, averaging 8.8 runs per game and winning three of the contests by run rule.
Butler 10, Weatherford (TX) 2 – 5 innings
Freshman infielder Becca Schulte led the Grizzlies' seven-run attack in the second inning with an inside-the-park home run down the right-field line. Butler opened the inning with a two-run double by Mikayla Waggnor, then a bases-loaded walk to Megan Wurts scored Danae Bina to give the Grizzlies a 3-0 run lead.
Schulte then followed with an opposite-field shot down the line past Weatherford right fielder Jessica Torrez, who dove in attempt to make a catch.
Weatherford added a pair of unearned runs in the fourth, but the Grizzlies answered with three runs in the top-half of the fifth. Waggnor, who went 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored in the game, hit an RBI double, then Alexis Clinton followed with a two-run triple to right-center.
Regan Mergele picked up her third straight win, going four innings while allowing five hits, no earned runs and striking out five.
Butler 8, Alvin (TX) 0 – 6 innings
The Grizzlies got a one-hit shutout pitching performance against Alvin from sophomore starter Jennifer Hittinger, who fanned six batters while walking just one.
Butler jumped out to a 1-0 lead after one inning on a Becca Schulte sacrifice fly, then scored four runs in the second. Gracie Bogle opened the four-run second with an RBI single, then Megan Wurts hit a two-run double. The scoring ended with a two-out, bases-loaded walk to Morgan Heckart which scored Alexis Clinton.
Wurts continued to provide run support with an RBI triple in the fourth inning, then added a run-scoring double in the sixth – both times driving in Clinton. Schulte added an RBI single during the sixth.
Brynn Minor pitched in relief with a pair of shutout innings and striking out three batters.
Butler 7, Hill (TX) 4
The Grizzlies opened Friday's nightcap against Hill with a three-run first inning, scoring all runs with two outs.
Brynn Minor began the scoring with an RBI single to bring in Clinton, then an error by Hill second baseman Joanne Schroeder on a grounder by Raven Bass allowed Morgan Heckart and Minor to score. Megan Wurts added an RBI double in the second to give the Grizzlies a 4-0 lead.
Hill scored two unearned runs in the fourth off starter Regan Mergele. The Rebels had runners at the corners courtesy of a hit-by-pitch and a fielding error. Hill's Megan Bancroft scored from third on a passed ball, then Kayla Arguello scored on another error.
Clinton broke the game open in the fifth by clearing the bases with a three-run triple to right field with two outs, as Butler took a 7-2 lead.
In the seventh inning, Hill fell short with a late rally. Meagan Kujawa hit a one-out triple, then scored on a Mary Zellner single. Two batters later, Zellner scored on an RBI single. With two runners on and the potential tying run at the plate, Brynn Minor picked up the win in relief by getting Schroeder to fly out to right to end the game.
Clinton led Butler offensively, going 2-for-4 with three RBI, while Wurts and Minor each went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Butler 13, Snead State (AL) 2 – 5 innings
The Grizzlies set season-high marks in runs (13) and walks (7) while pounding out 12 hits in the opening win over Snead State on Saturday. Butler put the game out of reach early, taking an 11-1 lead after three innings of play.
As the visitors on the scoreboard, Butler led 3-0 after the top of the first. Wurts scored the game's first run on a fielding error, then Raven Bass drove in Becca Schulte with an RBI single. Minor also added a run on a two-base error.
After Snead scored a run to pull within 3-1, Butler exploded with a five-run second inning. The Grizzlies opened the inning with two walks, then Wurts hit a single to score Mikayla Waggnor. With one out and the bases loaded, Minor hit a two-run double to left-center to drive in Clinton and Wurts. Raven Bass followed with a sacrifice fly, then Gracie Bogle added an RBI single.
Butler took advantage of defensive errors in the third. With the bases loaded and no outs, Waggnor scored from third on a passed ball. Clinton crossed home on a fielder's choice when Morgan Heckart beat out a throw at first base, then Wurts scored on a groundout.
Leading 11-2 in the fifth, Butler added two more runs – including an RBI single by Bass.
Minor was the top Grizzly hitter with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate, scoring two runs and driving in a team-high five RBI. Wurts and Schulte scored three runs each, while Bass and Bogle each had two RBI.
Regan Mergele improved to 5-0 on the season with a complete-game victory. The freshman righty had a season-high eight strikeouts, while allowing one earned run on six hits.
Midland (TX) 7, Butler 6 – 8 innings
Butler led 4-1 after five innings thanks to a pair of two-run home runs by Alexis Clinton and Becca Schulte in the third inning.
Midland rallied to take a 5-4 lead with a four-run sixth, scoring three of the runs on three consecutive singles with two outs.
Danae Bina put the Grizzlies back on top in the bottom-half of the sixth with a two-out, two-run bloop single to right field to score Brynn Minor and Raven Bass.
Midland tied the game with a run in the seventh, then Butler went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning to force extra innings.
With the tiebreaker rule in effect (each team getting a runner on second to start the inning), Midland quickly took the lead as Lauren Taunu'u opened with a double to score Roblynn Kami. The Grizzlies avoided further damage in the inning, but failed to score in the eighth to end the game.
Starter Jennifer Hittinger gave up four earned runs on eight hits in six innings, while Regan Mergele took the loss by giving up two unearned runs in two innings.
Butler returns to Texas this weekend with four games to be played in Weatherford. The Grizzlies will play two familiar teams – Northeast Texas and host Weatherford – on Friday, then take on Paris (TX) and Navarro (TX) on Saturday.