In a much anticipated re-match between top ten nationally ranked teams fighting for the conference title, the Barton Community College softball team's bid for its first conference championship since 2004 came to an end Saturday in El Dorado as the No. 9 ranked Lady Cougars were swept by the No. 6 ranked Grizzlies of Butler Community College. In a resumption of its March 30 washed out doubleheader, Butler broke a 2-2 tie with two sixth inning doubles to win 3-2 then capitalized on six Barton errors in the nightcap put the touches on their sixth straight title winning 6-1. The pair of losses drops the Lady Cougars to 17-5 in conference play and 46-6 overall while Butler improves to 21-1 and 41-4 taking three of the four in the season series. Barton will conclude its regular season on Monday with a 2:00 p.m. doubleheader at Pratt Community College before turning its sights to the Region VI Tournament beginning Friday in El Dorado.
From its previous trip to East Park, the Cougars had rallied twice in the March 30 game tying it up at two apiece before a second dumping of rain forced the cancellation.
Butler had taken a first inning lead after Alexis Clinton's leadoff double scored on Becca Schulte's 0-2 pitch doubled off the center field fence.
Having stranded a Cadie O'Donnell single and stolen base in the first inning, the Cougars didn't waste the next opportunity in the second as McKenna Mauler delivered the game tying two-strike single up the middle scoring pinch runner Caitlin Molyneux from second base. Molyneux was inserted in the lineup after Payton Summers was hit by a pitch followed by Holly Posegate's single to right.
Madison Didion would strike out four in her four innings of work but the Grizzlies first inning 0-2 hit and a third inning 2-2 two-out solo homerun put Butler back in the lead at 2-1.
Following the first rain delay with Butler at-bat in the fourth with two outs, Didion quickly got the Cougars to the fifth inducing a harmless ground ball back to the circle.
Barton went to work with one-out in the top of the final inning getting singles by Maddison Schofield and O'Donnell before Jayden Gonzales loaded the bases after becoming the second Cougar to get plunked by a pitch. Still atop the nation's top three runs batted in, Brittany Wood snapped a three game drought driving in the tying run with a sharp single to left leaving the bases loaded. Following a Jenna Hosey fielder's choice resulting in a force out at home, Summers was left in the box with a one strike count as the second deluge forced the cancellation.
Returning to the diamond on Saturday, Summers fouled off three two-strike pitches before popping up to the catcher to end the fifth inning threat.
With Didion returning to the circle, the Grizzlies were only able to manage a two-out single in the home half but the Cougars were unable to regain any momentum in the sixth going down in order.
As if a theme in the battle with Butler, Didion struggled to get the knockout punch as Morgan Bohanan delivered a full-count double to lead off the sixth. One out later winning pitcher Brynn Minor sent a 0-2 pitch game winning double to the outfield.
Moving to 3-0 on the season Minor sent down the Cougars in order for the second straight inning while dropping Didion to 24-3 on the season finishing with five strikeouts.
The Barton bats continued to be silent into the second half of the twin bill going down in order to begin the game. Meanwhile, the Cougar defense also was still on the bus as two consecutive one-out errors helped produce a 2-0 Butler lead after the first inning of play.
A two-base error opened up the Butler third inning with a passed ball, single, and another Cougar error led to another two runs as the Grizzlies opened up a four run lead.
Butler would add another in the fourth getting a two-out double scoring a leadoff single then tacked on another in the sixth as a leadoff error would score on another big two-out Butler hit.
Managing only four hits in the game two, the lone Cougars to reach base were a second inning single by Hosey, two coming from the 8-9 hitters of Mauler and Lili Ertmann in the fifth inning, and a Gonzales single in the sixth. Mauler crushed a left center long ball for her eleventh of the season to break up the shutout with two outs while Ertmann followed with a single being stranded at second after a passed ball.
Posegate took the game two hard luck loss only giving up one unearned run in scattering seven hits in dropping to 21-3.