Butler Community College softball picked up fifth straight region title
With the title victory, Butler has won 11 of the last 14 Region VI titles since moving to NJCAA D-I.
DODGE CITY, Kansas—For the fifth straight season and 11th time in program history, Butler softball are the Region VI champions after claiming the title in dominating fashion with a 10-0 victory over Barton on Sunday afternoon at Legends Park.
The Grizzlies were fueled behind a three-hit performance from leadoff hitter Madi Young and seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings from starter Maddie Redman. Mariah Wheeler also went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, including a two-run double as part of a three-run first inning for Butler.
“This year, with all the injuries we’ve had to key players and to fight through them, it’s a little more special,” said Grizzly head coach Doug Chance.
Winners of 43 straight games, Butler (47-2 overall) advances to the Plains District series, where they await the Region IX winner for a best-of-three series on May 17-18. The Grizzlies will host the series at East Park with two games on Monday and a third game to be played on Tuesday, if needed.
The district winner will then receive an automatic bid to the NJCAA National Tournament in Yuma, Ariz., on May 25-29.
Young, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and two stolen bases, continued to stitch her name into the Grizzly single-season record books. Young’s double to right-center off Barton reliever Elizabeth Horsch in the bottom of the fourth inning put her atop the leaderboard for both doubles (31) and hits (92) in a season.
“I’m just having fun,” said Young, who leads all NJCAA Division I players with 103 runs (another Butler single-season record) and has a team-high .564 batting average. “I love this team. Every time in our huddle, I’m like ‘I love you girls’ because it’s just a totally different atmosphere. We’re all having fun and competing at the plate.”
While the offense continued to roll, Redman (22-0) continued to dominate in the circle as she had in her previous two tourney games. Coming off 15 strikeouts in Saturday’s 3-2 quarterfinal win over Garden City, Redman limited the Cougars to just three hits over five innings, with no walks and seven strikeouts – including retiring the side in the third with three swinging strikeouts.
Out of the 16 batters faced, Redman grabbed the advantage with a first-pitch strike 14 times. Even a wild pitch thrown to her final batter in the fifth worked in Redman’s favor, as the ball ricocheted off the backstop to catcher Myah Johnson, who gunned down Barton’s Adreanna Lance at third base to end the inning.
“Command is everything and she commands it really well,” said Chance. “She’s got good velocity and late movement. That’s a pretty good recipe for a dominating pitcher.”
Redman pitched in three of Butler’s four tourney games, going 3-0 with an 0.93 earned-run average. She allowed just two earned runs on 10 hits over 15 innings in the tournament, as well as recording 28 strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
As they have done in all four tournament games, Butler’s offense struck first with a three-run first inning, but not before a controversial call went the Grizzlies’ way.
Young opened the frame with a single to left to tie the single-season hit mark (Kacy Covert, 2010; Brynn Minor, 2017), then stole second base. Emily Adler was later hit with a pitch and Young would move to third on a fly out, putting runners at the corners with two outs.
With Hannah Knox at the plate, Butler executed a double steal, but the throw from Barton catcher Madison Faylor went directly to starting pitcher Kayla Beers, who fired back to Faylor in attempt to nab Young. Replays showed that the tag was placed before Young reached home, but the home plate umpire ruled Young safe on the play.
With the inning extended, Knox reached base with a walk, then Mariah Wheeler hit a two-run double to right to score Adler and Knox for a 3-0 Grizzly lead.
In the Butler second, Johnson led off with a walk and Sydney Adler was hit with a pitch, prompting Barton to make a pitching change with Elizabeth Horsch.
Both Johnson and Adler advanced on a Young groundout. Johnson would then score from third on a Shayna Espy fielder’s choice, with Adler getting tagged out in a rundown and Espy moving to second during the play.
Emily Adler then delivered a two-out RBI double to left to drive in Espy to put Butler in front 5-0.
The Grizzlies put the game out of reach with a five-run fifth inning behind six hits off Barton’s Horsch, with Knox starting the hit attack with a single through the left side of the infield. Wheeler then smacked a triple to right-center to score Knox, while pinch hitter Brooke McCorkle followed with an RBI double to left.
Two batters later, pinch hitter Gentry Shepherd hit a double through the left side which moved McCorkle to third base, then Young added her 32nd double of the season to drive in two runs. Alex Olson drove in the Grizzlies’ final run when she was ruled safe on an infield single, with Young alertly scoring from second on the play.
With one more hurdle separating the Grizzlies from their goal of reaching the national tournament, both Wheeler and Young are eager to return to the field for districts.
“I’m so proud of this team and how far we’ve come,” said Wheeler. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’re ready to get to Yuma.”
“From day one, that was our goal to get to nationals and we’re one step closer to it,” Young said. “Next Monday, hopefully we’ll be district champs and be on our way.”