Butler Softball Opens Season With Sweep of Northeastern JC

Butler Softball Opens Season With Sweep of Northeastern JC

LA JUNTA, Colo. – 15th-ranked Butler softball opened its 2024 season with a familiar foe in Northeastern Junior College on Wednesday, defeating them 9-0 and 6-4 in a doubleheader at Tippy Martinez Softball Field, Otero College's home field.

Butler (2-0) and NJC (0-2) met last season in the 2023 Plains District Championship, with the Grizzlies winning both games and punching their ticket to the 2023 NJCAA National Tournament.

This season saw similar results albeit less on the line as Butler earned two hard fought wins over the Plainswomen in each teams first games of the season

Game 1: No. 15 Butler 9, NJC 0

Butler started its season with a five-inning run rule shutout, winning 9-0.

Freshman pitcher Chloe Odle (W, 1-0) picked up her first collegiate win, throwing 3.0 innings allowing no hits or runs and striking out five. Fellow freshman Addy Ewing tossed the final 2.0 allowing a lone hit as well as a strikeout.

The offense got started immediately with a two spot in the first inning. Freshman third baseman Kim Yepez came through with an RBI double, scoring second baseman Claire Lopez for the Grizzlies first run of the season. Sophomore catcher Cady Dickey followed that up with an RBI single to score Yepez, making it 2-0 in the bottom of the first.

The offense was not done in the first inning as Butler poured in six second inning runs, taking an 8-0 lead.

Dickey later hit a towering solo home run over the left field fence in the bottom of the fourth, making it 9-0. Ewing held NJC off the board in the top of the fifth as the Grizzlies secured the run rule win.

Lopez walked three times in the game, scoring twice. Dickey had two hits, driving in two runs. Yepez had two RBI and freshman first baseman Caylee Mann had a hit and an RBI. Butler walked five times and struck out just four.  

Game 2: No. 15 Butler 6, NJC 4

Game two of the doubleheader was much tighter as Butler won 6-4.

It seemed as if the Grizzlies would pull away early again as they put up four runs in the bottom of the first, taking a 4-0 lead. Claire Lopez (walk) and JaKeyla McDaniel (infield single), the first two batters of the game for Butler, both reached base. Kim Yepez loaded the bases for Cady Dickey on a single to center field and Dickey delivered with a gap shot single through the right side that scored two. Yepez and Dickey both came around to score later in the inning, Yepez from third on a failed throwdown and Dickey from third on a 4-3 fielder's choice, making it 4-0.

Butler scattered one run each in the fourth and fifth, upping their lead to 6-0. NJC made things scary for the Grizzlies in the top of the sixth as they scored four runs off Grizzly reliever Lena Walter, making it a two-run game at 6-4.

Cheyenne Handsaker (W, 1-0) re-entered the game in the seventh to close it out for Butler. She threw 6.1 scoreless innings, allowing five hits. She struck out four and walked three.

Lopez finished with two hits and two walks, Dickey drove in two runs and sophomore shortstop Aly Hageman also drove in two runs as well as walking once.