Butler softball finds split in Collegiate Winter Blast

Randy Smith
Butler’s Halle Hale steals second base during the Grizzlies’ 5-4 loss to North Central Texas on Friday in Denison, Texas.

DENISON, Texas – Butler softball split two games during Day 1 of the Collegiate Winter Blast, held at Texoma Health Foundation Park. 

In an opening battle between NJCAA ranked teams, the 11th-ranked Grizzlies (4-2 overall) defeated No. 4 Tyler (Texas) 6-2 behind a 10-hit attack and five shutout innings from freshman pitcher Izzy Erickson. Butler came up short in the nightcap with a 5-4 loss to North Central Texas. 

Butler continues play with two games Saturday, beginning with an 11:00 a.m. contest against Weatherford (Texas). The Grizzlies end the two-day tourney by facing Grayson (Texas) at 1:00 p.m. 

Game 1 – Butler 6, Tyler (Texas) 2 

Sydney Adler drove in Butler’s first run in the top of the second as she delivered a two-out single to left-center, which scored Hannah Knox from second base. 

Butler added another run for a 2-0 lead in the third inning when Madi Young led off with a single up the middle, stole second base, then moved to third on an Emily Adler groundout. Young scored after Ari Cordova hit a grounder that was bobbled in the infield. 

In the fifth, Butler created another run on three consecutive one-out hits. Young doubled down the left-field line, then scored when Emily Adler singled up the middle for a 3-0 lead. 

Myah Johnson put the Grizzlies up 4-0 in the sixth with an RBI single to left-center scoring Anna Icenhower, who led off the inning with a double to left. 

Butler added its two final runs in the seventh when pinch hitter Gentry Shepherd blasted a two-run homer to right-center. 

Young led the Grizzly offense going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base, while Cordova went 2-for-3 with a double and stolen base. 

Erickson (2-1) won her second game in three starts with five shutout innings, giving up just one hit, walking three and striking out five. Maddie Redman made her Butler debut by throwing the final two innings and allowed one earned run on two hits, fanned three and did not give up a walk. 

Game 2 – North Central Texas 5, Butler 4 

Butler fell into a 5-0 hole after the first two innings, beginning with a three-run first inning off Grizzly starter Hannah Knox. 

With one out and a runner on second base, a passed ball allowed NCTC's Katie Smith to score all the way from first base for the Lions’ first run. NCTC followed with three straight hits, capped by a two-run double by Nia Carter for a 3-0 lead.

In the NCTC second, Butler’s defense allowed the Lions to extend their lead. With North Central’s Lynzie Rollins on first base and two outs, a passed ball moved Rollins into scoring position. Sasha Jennings then hit a grounder to Grizzly third baseman Ari Cordova, but a wild throw allowed Rollins to score. Kenzlee Zaher followed with an RBI single to right-center to put the Lions up 5-0. 

Butler began to chip away at NCTC’s lead in the bottom of the second, starting with a two-out RBI double by Shayna Espy to score Halle Hale. 

The Grizzlies’ big inning came in the fourth after Butler’s first two hitters struck out. Hale started the rally with a single up the middle, then Sydney Adler reached base when North Central shortstop Katie Smith dropped a pop-up in shallow left. 

Espy made the Lions pay by beating out an infield single to score Hale from third, then Young lined a two-run triple to left field to score Adler and Espy. 

With Young at third base, the Grizzlies would end up stranding the potential tying runner at third base over the next three innings. Emily Adler grounded out to end Butler’s fifth inning. 

In the sixth, Cordova led off with a double to center, then stole third base with one out. However, North Central reliever Elizabeth Schroeter shut the door with three consecutive strikeouts. 

Butler gambled on the bases in the sixth inning after Hale opened with a leadoff walk. Sydney Adler followed with a groundout to first, but the scenario turned into a double play as Hale was thrown out trying to take third base on the play.  

With two outs, Butler threatened again when Espy singled up the middle, stole second and moved to third on a Young infield single. Young put more pressure on the Lions’ defense by stealing second to put two runners in scoring position, but Emily Adler grounded out to third to end the inning. The Grizzlies never threatened again, as they went down in order in the seventh to end the game.

North Central touched up Knox for three earned runs on seven hits. Knox gave up all five runs total, but did not walk a batter and struck out one. Kelcie Kippes threw two innings, allowing two hits and striking out one, while Maddie Redman tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh.  

Offensively, Espy went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Young hit 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs.  

NOTES: Under head coach Doug Chance, Butler improved to 2-2 all-time against Tyler… North Central has now won three straight games over Butler, which marks the longest winning streak in the series for the Lions. Butler still holds an 8-7 lead in the overall series.