GRAYSON PRATHER | STAFF REPORTER
In the span of slightly over 50 hours, the Butler University softball team will have completed a total of 35 innings in five games this weekend.
The University of South Alabama will be hosting five teams at the South Alabama Invitational — also known as the Mardi Gras Invitational.
The University of Evansville, Lipscomb University and Oklahoma State University will join the Bulldogs and the Jaguars at the invitational.
Butler is going into this trip with an even 2-2 record after last weekend’s “Rosemont Rumble” in Chicago.
The Bulldogs had a rough start to the tournament, losing 6-5 against Loyola University Chicago on a walk-off home run. The Bulldogs then suffered an 8-4 loss against Western Illinois University.
Butler rebounded, however, coming back with two wins against the University of Illinois at Chicago and Samford University.
The Bulldogs defeated UIC 3-2 and shut out the previously undefeated Bulldogs 8-0.
Butler head coach Scott Hall said he knows that playing in Chicago was a good experience, but the team is ready for the warmth that awaits it down south.
“All in all, we’re ready,” Hall said. “It was neat to play up there. It was good to be around a bunch of Chicago alums and former players, but at least it was warm.”
He knows the warmth they will experience down in Alabama is not necessarily a positive commodity, however.
“We are just not used to it,” Hall said. “We go from 20s to 30s here, and all of a sudden it could be mid-70s down there and humid, so we have just got to make sure we are hydrated and take care of our bodies.”
This is the first of two tournaments this season in which Butler will play five games. They will play another five-game stretch in three days over spring break at the University of Central Florida invitational.
This weekend the Bulldogs play Evansville (1-4) at 11:15 a.m. and Lipscomb (3-1) at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
They have two afternoon games on Saturday, playing the host Jaguars (3-2) at 4:45 p.m., and Oklahoma State (0-3) at 7 p.m.
They will play their final game of the tournament, a rematch with Lipscomb, at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Junior catcher Riley Carter knows they have to be prepared for this weekend by anticipating what they usually do.
“We have to really, really try hard,” Carter said. “We just have to go into every game [thinking], ‘It is the same as the next.’ We can’t anticipate different things from different teams. Some teams are better than others, some teams are worse, but I think that if we go into every game just like we do with any other game, we will do fine and do well.”
The Bulldogs look toward reigning Big East Player of the Week Junior Alex Kotter to continue her hot streak after last weekend’s tournament.
Kotter had a .900 batting average with nine hits in 10 at-bats, five RBIs and five walks in four games.
“Alex Kotter had a weekend like none other,” Hall said. “She just made Big East player of the week and she was on fire, so we would like to keep her hot.”
The Bulldogs are ready to succeed this weekend. They still have their eyes gazing towards the conference tournament, and Carter waits in anticipation.
“I’m excited because we were so close last year to going to the conference tournament,” Carter said. “And now that we’re doing so well now, it is making me look to the future thinking we could go to the tournament and do some good things.”