Butler softball earns opening round win over Dodge City

Butler won its 10th straight Region VI tournament game. Since moving to Division I in 2007, Butler is 11-3 in Region VI opening-round games and has won five straight tournament openers.

Randy Smith
Big R Sports
Butler’s Gentry Shepherd (7) celebrates with McKenna Jones (10) after hitting a solo home run during the Grizzlies’ 12-1 victory over Dodge City in Friday’s Region VI opening round at Legends Park in Dodge City, Kansas.

DODGE CITY, Kansas—All season long, Butler softball has distanced itself from the rest of the Jayhawk Conference. 

Friday’s Region VI opening round contest against Dodge City Community College was no different, as the Grizzlies hit four home runs and took advantage of five Conquistador errors in a 12-1 five-inning run-rule victory at Legends Park. 

Madi Young led the Grizzly offense by going 2-for-3 with three runs scored and provided a late insurance blow with an inside-the-park grand slam homer, while starter Maddie Redman was dominant in the circle with three shutout innings and six strikeouts as she earned her 20th win of the season. 

Butler (44-2 overall) extended its winning streak to 40 games while advancing to Saturday’s 11:00 a.m. quarterfinal round against Garden City, who defeated Independence 8-5. In other Region VI first-round action, top-seeded Colby beat Barton 5-2, while Hutchinson edged Seward County 3-2 with a game-tying solo homer from Bluestem grad Natalie Bevan and an walk-off RBI single by Easton Head. 

For the Grizzlies, the squad emphasized the importance of setting the same tone from the regular season, which saw Butler going a perfect 26-0 in conference play. 

“We talked really heavily about how the regular season was the regular season and now we’re 0-0,” said Redman. “Being able to come out in the first inning strong, taking this game and getting the win was important, because everybody’s out for us right now.” 

“I feel like we were all a little anxious coming in here, waiting all day and not knowing what to expect,” Young said. 

The Grizzlies wasted no time by jumping out to an 8-0 lead after three innings, tagging Dodge starter Danika Utajara for eight runs on nine hits. 

Butler started off with a four-run first inning, beginning when Young led off by reaching second on a two-base error, took third on a wild pitch and scoring on Shayna Espy’s double to right-center. Emily Adler followed with a single up the middle to plate Espy for the second run. After a fielder’s choice, Hannah Knox blasted a 1-0 pitch over the left-field fence for a 4-0 lead. 

Butler added two runs in the bottom of the second behind a pair of Dodge errors. Young hit a stand-up triple down the right-field line to open the inning. Espy then hit a grounder to third, but a low throw by Dodge’s Olliveia Lowe allowed Espy to reach safely and Young to score. Espy moved up to second on a groundout, then with Ari Cordova batting, Espy scored after a throw back to second base by Dodge catcher Madyson McCage sailed into the outfield. 

In the Butler third, Anna Icenhower led off by crushing the first pitch offering from Utajara to left for a solo homer. Gentry Shepherd followed with a solo blast to center to give the Grizzlies an 8-0 lead. 

Dodge broke the shutout bid in the fourth with an RBI single by KarliAnn Bauer, which scored AJ Poell. But the Conqs’ defense continued to make mistakes in the bottom of the inning, leading to Young’s grand slam. 

Butler loaded the bases on a throwing error, a hit by pitch and an Emma Barta infield single. With two outs and a 3-0 count, Young laced a ball just inside the left-field line and past Dodge left fielder Stephanie Torres. Young easily slid into home plate to give Butler a 12-1 edge. 

“I was very confident coming up to that at bat,” said Young. “I had 3-0 and thought any ball that was close, I was going to take a hack. It was right down the middle, so I just swung as hard as I could.” 

Redman, who threw just 53 pitches over three innings, recorded three strikeouts and gave up a single in the first inning, but gave up a leadoff triple to Makayla Garcia in the second. Espy dove for the ball on the hit and missed, but Knox retrieved the ball at the wall and fired to third to catch Garcia, who rounded third and was tagged getting back to the bag.. 

Redman allowed a leadoff single in the third, but proceeded to strike out the next three batters. Kippes tossed the final two innings, giving up an unearned run on one hit and striking out three. 

Espy scored twice and drove in two runs, while Knox went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.