The Butler softball team’s four-game win streak was snapped yesterday when the Bulldogs got swept in a non-conference doubleheader at the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks.
Butler freshman Leah Bry took the mound in the opener for the Bulldogs (25-17, 11-3 HL), allowing three runs in five innings of work.
Bry held Miami (21-17, 4-6 MAC) scoreless until the third inning when two Butler errors and four Miami hits resulted in three runs for the Redhawks.
Miami freshman first baseman Allie Larrabee drove in two of those runs with a one-out single to left-center field.
“We’ve got to get rid of some silly errors defensively,” Butler head coach Scott Hall said. “We need to make the routine plays and execute on the offensive end, such as getting bunts down and smart baserunning.”
Current MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week Jessica Simspon picked up the win for Miami, throwing a complete game shutout and striking out 14 batters en route to her 18th win of the season.
Junior leftfielder Lauren McNulty recorded the lone hit for the Bulldogs, breaking up Simpson’s no-hit bid in the sixth inning with a single to second base.
In the second game of the day, Miami used a big first inning to spark a 7-1 victory.
The Redhawks scored five runs in the opening inning, three of which were earned.
Senior Jennifer Chasteen took the loss for the Bulldogs.
Before yesterday, Butler won six of its last seven games, including a series sweep over the Green Bay Phoenix.
Sunday, the Bulldogs completed that three-game sweep over Green Bay (15-15, 2-7 HL) with a 5-4 win.
Sophomore Jenny Esparza picked up her 12th win of the year, striking out six batters in five innings of work. She allowed three earned runs, putting an end to her streak of 47 consecutive scoreless innings.
“Our pitching staff has been unbelievable this whole year,” McNulty said. “We might not have our best offensive game each time out, but our pitchers have been there to pick us up. They are really what’s holding us together.”
Butler trailed, 4-3, heading into the bottom of the fifth inning before McNulty belted a two-run homer to put the Bulldogs on top for good.
McNulty finished the day 3-for-3 with 3 RBIs and was subsequently named Horizon League Softball Player of the Week.
“I was seeing the ball better,” McNulty said. “And our bench does a great job of keeping track of what the pitchers have been throwing. I had a pretty good idea of what the pitchers were going to throw me.”
Chasteen got her 10th win of the season in Butler’s second Saturday game. Her two-hit outing led the Bulldogs to a 2-0 victory.
Freshman designated hitter Callie Dennison shared the spotlight with Chasteen in the second game.
Dennison did all the damage required in the second inning by using a double to left-center field to drive in both of the Bulldogs’ runs.
In the opening game of the series versus Green Bay, junior first baseman Erin Falkenberry recorded a pair of RBIs that put her atop Butler’s all-time RBI list.
Falkenberry currently has 109 RBIs in her career, including 38 this season.
She is six RBIs from tying the Butler single-season record, and 18 from breaking into the Horizon League’s single-season top 10 list.
With at least 11 games left this season and her senior year to boot, Falkenberry is likely to move up the Horizon League’s top 10 for career RBIs.
The Bulldogs will close out their home schedule this weekend against Youngstown State. The teams will play a doubleheader Friday and another game Saturday.
Saturday’s game will mark the last regular season home game for seniors Chasteen, Erin Jackson and Lauren Ott.
Butler’s final six games will be on the road—three at Wright State (18-18, 7-2 HL) and then three at Loyola (16-18, 6-5).
Butler now leads the Horizon League standings and is 3.5 games ahead of second-place Wright State (18-18, 7-2 HL).
The Bulldogs will travel to Wright State on Tuesday to begin a crucial series that could decide the regular season conference championship.
The regular season league champion will host the Horizon League tournament, which will be from May 11 to 14.
”If we keep playing the way we’ve been playing in conference, I think we have a great chance to win the league,” McNulty said. “It would be huge for us.”