Butler softball set a new single-season consecutive winning streak in program history Thursday with a pair of shutout victories over Pratt at East Park.
The No. 1-ranked Grizzlies (40-0 overall, 16-0 conference) broke last year's mark of 38 straight victories with an 18-0 run-rule win in Game 1 over the Beavers, then extended the single-season win streak to 40 games by beating Pratt 8-0 in five innings.
In addition to running their overall winning streak to 78 straight games, Butler also set a new school record of 31 straight regular-season home conference wins - breaking the record of 30 (April 29, 2010-April 2, 2014). The Grizzlies added to their school-record winning streaks in conference (39) and at home (38).
Butler has won its last four games by shutout, which matches a program-best regular-season mark set in 2008. The Grizzlies' overall shutout streak is five games, which occurred in 2011 when Butler finished the regular season with two shutouts against Garden City and won all three Region VI tournament games by blanking Barton (7-0) and Seward County twice (13-0, 17-0).
With the two run-rule wins against Pratt, Butler has now recorded 17 run-rule wins in the last 19 games. The Grizzlies, who lead the nation in 11.3 runs per game, have scored at least eight runs those 19 games. Out of Butler's 16 conference wins this season, 14 of them have been run-rule victories.
Butler will next be in action on Monday against Seward County for a conference doubleheader beginning at 2:00 p.m. from East Park.
Game 1 - Butler 18, Pratt 0 (5 innings)
The Grizzlies led 2-0 after the first inning on an RBI groundout by Kenzie Young to score Ki'Audra Hayter and a Darrianne Hale RBI single to drive in Brynn Minor.
Butler then opened the contest open in the third inning by sending 16 batters to the plate and scoring 11 runs on seven hits. The 11-run inning marked the fifth time this season the Grizzlies have scored 10 or more runs in one inning.
Allison Jurgensen opened the scoring with a three-run home run to left. Butler would load the bases later in the inning, which set up a walk to Young to score Caylie Kifer. Becca Schulte followed with a single through the left side of the infield to bring in Paige Pacher and Hayter.
Minor then blasted her 21st homer of the season with a three-run shot to left-center. Alexis Reed capped the scoring in the inning with a two-run double to center that scored Hale and Jurgensen.
Butler added five more runs in the fourth, beginning when Tyesha Morgan scored from third base on a fielder's choice. Jurgensen then hit her second home run of the game, hammering another three-run blast to left. Pinch hitter Nykiah Hines ended the scoring with an RBI double to score Kifer.
Jurgensen finished with a career-high six RBI while going 2-for-3 with three runs scored, while Hayter was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and a stolen base. Minor was 2-for-2 with three runs scored and three RBI. Hale and Hines also went 2-for-2 in the contest.
Regan Mergele picked up her 20th win of the season, going 3 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and allowing just two singles. Minor closed the game by throwing the final 1 2/3 innings, giving up just one hit and striking out two.
Game 2 - Butler 8, Pratt 0 (5 innings)
After a scoreless first inning, Kenzie Young put Butler on the board with a three-run double to left-center in the second. Allison Jurgensen, Celina Sullivan and Paige Pacher had singles in the inning, which set up Young's bases-clearing hit.
In the third, Butler had solo home runs by Brynn Minor, Jurgensen and Sullivan. Minor led off the inning with a blast to center - her 22nd of the season. After a groundout, Jurgensen crushed her third home run of the doubleheader, which went over the left-field scoreboard. Sullivan followed with a solo blast to left.
Darrianne Hale added her 12th homer of the season in the fourth with a two-run shot to left.
Pratt's only scoring threat came in the fifth and final inning, when the Beavers had a runner reach first on an error, then a walk. With one out, Pratt hit into a fielder's choice to move both runners in scoring position, but Maddie Siemer recorded a groundout to end the game.
Young led Butler with three RBI, while Minor was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Sullivan and Jurgensen both went 2-for-2 and scored two runs each. Pacher also went 2-for-2 with two stolen bases and a run scored.
Sullivan (6-0) was credited with the victory, throwing four innings of one-hit ball and fanning five. Seimer threw the final inning and did not allow a hit, struck out one and had one walk.
NOTES: Minor currently has a 24-game hitting streak, hitting .597 (43-of-72) with 17 home runs, 49 runs batted in, 39 runs scored and nine doubles during that span. With the two home runs today, Minor moved into second place among NJCAA Division I hitters with 22 homers. The sophomore is two home runs away from tying the single-season school record (Kate James, 24, 2013)... Schulte had a 17-game hitting streak snapped by going 0-for-3 in the second game against Pratt. The sophomore hit .556 (35-of-63) with 13 home runs, 42 runs battted in, scored 35 runs and six doubles during the streak... Butler's pitching staff dropped its team earned-run average to 0.935 on the season. Chipola, Fla., leads the nation at 0.931... The Grizzlies' offense have 418 runs batted in, which now ranks second among Division I teams. Butler continues to lead the nation in runs per game (11.3), on-base (.494) and slugging (.744) percentage and ranks third in runs scored (449), home runs (86) and batting average (.418)... Butler has won 19 straight games against Pratt and improved to 23-2 overall under head coach Doug Chance.