NJCAA Day 1: Defending-champ Butler shows little mercy

Howard (TX) vs. Tyler (TX), NJCAA National Championship Softball Tournament, St. George, UT, May 17, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The defending national champ Butler (Kan.) Grizzlies have played 54 games this season, losing just once along the way. So when Snead State College out of Alabama made a game of things in the first round of the NJCAA national tournament at the Canyons Complex, Butler turned to what it does best – scoring runs.

The Grizzlies (54-1) scored six runs in the third and fourth innings and the top-ranked Butler team, which won its first national championship a year ago in St. George, showed why its the favorite to win it all again with a 9-1 mercy-rule won over the Parsons.

The Grizzlies average 11 runs a game and have hit a record 118 home runs this year. Snead State held the champs below their average and didn’t allow a homer, but was still no match for Butler. Becca Schulte had two doubles and three runs batted in to lead the way.

Schulte, who was an all-tournament selection last season, changed a 2-1 nailbiter into a 4-1 lead with her first double in the bottom of the third. Her second double, in the fourth, scored Kenzie Young and pushed the lead to 8-1. An Alexis Reed single in the fifth brought on the mercy rule, which is right runs after five innings in college softball.

Regan Mergele got the win from the circle for Butler, going five innings and allowing four hits. The Grizzlies play again Thurday at 2:30 p.m against Howard College from Texas, winner (12-6) over Tyler (Texas).

Utah’s own Salt Lake Community College, ranked No. 2 in the nation, also came away with a mercy-rule win, scoring four runs in the first and four runs in the third inning.

Kaylee Bott and Madison Cisco had two hits and two RBIs each as the Bruins ended the 11-3 blowout over Georgia Militray in the sixth. Bott had a double and also hit a two-run single in the sixth that shortened the game. SLCC plays San Jacinto-South (Texas) Thursday at 2:30 p.m. SJSC beat Chattanooga State 4-3.

No. 3 Florida SouthWestern drubbed Indian Hills (Iowa) 10-2, with Courtney Gettens throwing a one-hitter, though he had four walks. FSWC first baseman Taylor Collins hit two three-run homers in the win. Florida SouthWestern had 13 hits. FSWSC will play Lake Land, Ill., Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The Laker beat NE Oklahoma A&M 6-5.

No. 4-ranked Chipola rallied from a run down in the bottom of the seventh to defeat North Central Texas 5-3. Barbara Woll had the big blow, socking a walk-off two-run homer with two outs in the seventh and the game tied. Woll finished with two hits and Ashley Morris had three for the Indians. Chipola, last year’s runner-up, will play Central Arizona at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The No.5-ranked Vaqueras beat scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to rally past Wallace State (Ala.).

All games are played at St. George City’s world-class Canyons Complex. The tournament continues through Saturday.

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