Esparza Leads Butler Past Valparaiso

Esparza Leads Butler Past Valparaiso

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Sophomore Jenny Esparza put on another dominant performance on the mound while leading Butler to a 2-0 victory over visiting Valparaiso in the final game of a three-game Horizon League series at the Butler Softball Field on Wednesday (April 13).  The win lifted Butler to 22-15 on the season and 8-3 in league play.

Esparza allowed just two infield hits and walked just one in the complete-game effort.  She had eight strikeouts and faced just 23 batters in the victory.  It was her second win in two days over the Crusaders (23-17-1, 6-6 HL) and her fourth win in five days, including a 16-inning marathon victory over Cleveland State.

“(Jenny) was really struggling yesterday, coming off that 16-inning game.  She was really sore and really tired, and she really battled with her control.  But she fought through it and we got the win,” said Butler head coach Scott Hall

“For her to come back today and dial it in without a day of rest was really an exceptional performance on her part.”

“And Mallory (Winters) really called a great game,” added the Butler coach of his junior catcher’s performance behind the plate.

The Bulldogs jumped in front with two runs off of Valparaiso starter Alex Lagesse in the first inning.  Junior Lauren McNulty started the two-out rally with an infield single, and junior Erin Falkenberry followed with a single to centerfield.  Junior Jessica Huey then delivered a single to right field, scoring McNulty and sending Falkenberry to third.

Butler scored its final run moments later when Valparaiso tried to make a play on a steal attempt by Huey.  As the Crusaders attempted to run Huey back to first base, Falkenberry broke for home and beat the return throw to the plate.

Lagesse (8-10) held the Bulldogs to just three more hits for the rest of the game, but the first inning scores were enough for Esparza, who improved to 10-5 on the year.  The Butler righthander has allowed just one earned run in her last 37 innings of work and has recorded 38 strikeouts over that stretch.

Butler will continue its current nine-game homestand with a three-game Horizon League series against Green Bay on Saturday and Sunday, April 16-17.  The two league foes will meet in a doubleheader at the Butler Softball Field on Saturday starting at 1 p.m.  The series will conclude with a single game on Sunday starting at noon.  Sunday’s game has been designated as Butler’s “Team Day” for youth and travel teams.