In what could be a preview of the Jayhawk Conference title race, the Barton Community College and No. 6 ranked Butler Community College softball teams opened conference play Thursday with a doubleheader split at Cougar Field. The Cougars scored single runs in four straight innings to knock off the Grizzlies 4-2 in game one but a six run fifth inning put away any hopes of a sweep with Butler's 9-1 five inning victory. The loss snapped a seventeen game win streak for the Cougars and a modest two game streak over the Grizzlies as the teams parted the field with Barton at 19-2 on the season and Butler 16-4. Next up for Barton will be a trip to Concordia, Kansas, for a five game weekend tournament hosted by Cloud County Community College.
Butler took the early lead getting consecutive two-out doubles from Morgan Bohanan and Becca Schulte. Barton got the equalizer one inning later as Jenna Hosey, who reached on an infield error, would later score on a Holly Posegate one-out single up the middle.
The Cougars took the lead in the home half of the third when Jayden Gonzales delivered an RBI single past diving second baseman Mikayla Waggnor scoring Lili Ertmann who led off the inning with a walk.
Schulte would get her second hit in as many at-bats belting a deep centerfield drive banging off the top of the fence for a leadoff triple to begin the Butler fourth. Brynn Minor followed with a high infield pop-up that played tricks in the wind dropping just out of the reach of shortstop Jenna Hosey giving the Grizzlies runners at the corners with no out. Reigning conference pitcher of the week Madison Didion battled back striking out the next batter but Butler perfectly executed a double-steal on the next at-bat as the Cougars threw into second allowing Schulte to swipe home tying the game.
With Barton's first two batters going down in the home half on four pitches, McKenna fought off a 0-2 Regan Mergele pitch lifting her fourth homerun of the season as her fly to right center drifted just over the fence for the game winner.
Didion sent down the Grizzlies in order in the fifth striking out two in part of her seven strikeout game. Reigning conference player of the week Maddison Schofield set the table leading off the bottom of the inning with a single then moved to second on Cadie O'Donnell's perfect sac bunt. One pitch later Jayden Gonzales delivered some insurance runs driving home Schofield on a line shot to right field.
Improving to 9-1 on the season, Didion scattered five hits to go along with her seven strikeouts while only allowing a seventh inning five pitch two-out walk. Mergele took the loss despite matching Didion's seven strikeouts dropping to 8-3 on the season.
Barton grabbed the early edge in game two as Mauler doubled to right field scoring Hosey who had reached on a single two batters earlier.
A walk and an infield error to the eighth and ninth batters in the Butler lineup would haunt the Cougars in the third as Butler came through with a sac fly and another Bohanan double to grab a 2-1 lead. A leadoff double by Raven Bass the next inning would score on another infield error with two outs in the inning increasing the lead to two.Butler would put the game away in the fifth plating six runs spurred by Bohannon's third double of the day driving home Megan Wurts' leadoff walk. Three consecutive singles would tack on three more runs chasing Posegate from the game with the Cougars down 7-1. Amanda Evans came out of the pen inducing a fly out for the first out of the inning but then saw the second pitch she threw to Taylor Zanca fly high and far just over the centerfield fence for two more runs and the game clinching 9-1 lead.
The loss was the first of the season for Posegate as the sophomore dropped to 8-1 on the season going four innings of work surrendering eight hits, eight runs, striking out one while walking three. Jennifer Hittinger went the full five limiting the fifth ranked Cougar hitters to only four hits improving to 6-1 on the season.