Grizzlies win fifth straight District Championship, advance to National Tournament

Grizzlies win fifth straight District Championship, advance to National Tournament

For the fifth consecutive year, the Butler softball team is headed back to the National Tournament after defeating Trinidad State Junior College 11-3 and 21-4 in the Plains District Championship series Monday night. 

"This has been our focus all year long," said freshman Madi Young after the sweep of the Trojans. "we break down every practice with 'Zona' and we finally made it official tonight."

Butler has now won a total of six district titles and this now marks the 11th time the Grizzlies have made a national tournament appearance (2007, 08, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21). Butler won the title in back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017 and now have two members of those championship teams on staff with the Grizzlies in Morgan Bohanan and Kenzie Young.

"They bring credibility to this team," commented head coach Doug Chance. "they have been there and done that and the girls look up to that and respect it. They will bring an abundance of experience with them into this tournament."

Butler has not lost a district game since the 2014 season and, after picking up two wins Monday night the Grizzlies now carry a 45-game winning streak with them into the National Tournament that begins Tuesday May 25th in Yuma, Arizona. This is the second longest winning streak in school history next to the 88-game streak that was set during the 2016 & 2017 seasons. Seeding for the 16-team, double-elimination tournament will be announced on Thursday.

Butler handled the Region IX champions quite handedly Monday at East Park winning 11-3 in game one by run rule in five-innings. The Grizzlies took and early 8-0 lead after two innings and never looked back. Trinidad recorded their first hit of the game in the top of the fifth with a solo homerun by Bailey Griego followed up by a two-run homerun by Ramona Fossum. That sent it into the bottom of the fifth which gave the Grizzlies a chance to walk-it off. This time, it was Mayah Johnson hitting a two-run homerun over the left-center field fence to end the game.

Mariah Wheeler and Mayah Johnson both had homeruns in the game while Shayna Espy, Ari Cordova, Hannah Knox and Anna Icenhower each hit a double. Wheeler finished with three RBI's in game one with Cordova, Knox and Johnson all chalking up two runs batted in.

Maddie Redman picked up the win pitching three complete no-hit innings improving to 23-0 on the season. Redman faced 11 batters in three innings walking three and striking out three. Kelcie Kippes finished out the game pitching the final two frames giving up three runs off three hits while striking out one.

Game two was much of the same as the Grizzlies, similar to game one, scored eight runs in the first two innings. Myah Johnson led off the second with a triple and advanced home on an error. Madi Young singled, stole a base and then was driven home after a double to left by Shayna Espy. Emily Adler followed that up with a two-run homer to right center, her seventh of the season. Hannah Knox and Anna Icenhower also had RBI's in the Grizzlies six-run second inning. 

Butler was held at bay for the next three innings but opened up the flood gates in the sixth plating eight runs to take a 17-4 lead. Butler then tacked on another four in the seventh to finish it out 21-4. Butler hit back-to-back homeruns in the sixth, a three-run from Madi Young and a solo by Shayna Espy. Haley Garnett, in her first at bat of the day, wanted to get in on the action as well as she hit her second homerun of the season in the seventh, a three-run shot over center.

Izzy Erickson got the start in the circle but was relieved by Redman in the bottom of the second with two out and bases loaded. Redman struck out the batter stranding three Trojans on base. Redman went on the pitch 4.1 innings, finished the game allowing just one hit, a solo homerun. She struck out six and gave up no walks and picked up the win, her 24th of the season.

Butler hit five homeruns in game two adding to their two hit in game one as they overpowered the Trojans at the plate smashing seven homeruns. Young, Espy, Adler, Wheeler and Garnett all hit balls out of the park in game two. Madi Young, one of the nations best offensive threats was 4-5 in the game with three RBI's and three runs scored. She hit her 33rd double of the year adding to her nations best in doubles. Shayna Espy and Emily Adler also hit doubles in the contest. Mariah Wheeler drove in four runs in game two to finish with seven runs driven in on the day. Young and Garnett each finished the game with three RBI's while Espy, Adler, and Icenhower all finished with two apiece.

The Grizzlies have now won the last six matchups with the Trojans. They won in 2017 at Trinidad 19-2 and 17-2 and defeated the Trojans at home in 2018 winning 8-0 and 11-2. 

Madi Young holds the school record for single season doubles (33), runs (107), hits (97) and currently batting average (.564). She is second in stolen bases in Butler history with 58 behind Kace Covert who ended her career with 60. Shayna Espy set a new school record in career runs scored now at 141 runs scored in her career. 

Butler (49-2, 26-0) will make the long haul to Yuma, AZ later this week and prepare for the National Tournament that begins on Tuesday, May 25.