Coleman Blast Lifts Butler To 2-1 Victory

CHICAGO, ILL. -- Alyssa Coleman slugged a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning to lift Butler to a 2-1 victory over league-leading Loyola in the final game of a three-game series at the Loyola Softball Park on Sunday, May 1.  The win closed out Butler’s regular season schedule.

Coleman’s hit, the biggest of her Butler career, ended a no-hit bid by Loyola’s Brittany Gardner and helped the Bulldogs overcome a 1-0 deficit.  It also snapped her team’s string of 12 consecutive hitless innings.

Pinch-hitter Callie Dennison was hit by a Gardner pitch to start the sixth inning, and she advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Kayla Gray.  Loyola replaced Gardner with Keali Engelkens, and Coleman, pinch-hitting for pitcher Jennifer Chasteen, greeted the Ramblers’ new pitcher with a blast over the right-center field wall.  It was her second home run this year.

Sophomore righthander Jenny Esparza blanked the Ramblers (23-23, 13-7 Horizon League) over the final two innings to pick up her first save of the season.  She had four strikeouts in her two innings of work.

The Bulldogs had just two hits in the game, but Chasteen and Esparza combined to limit the Ramblers to a single run on five hits.  Chasteen, who had four strikeouts and no walks in five innings of work, improved to 15-8 on the season.  Engelkens, who surrendered both Butler hits, fell to 8-4 on the year.

Esparza, who allowed just one earned run in 15 innings on the weekend, had 31 strikeouts in the three-game series with Loyola.  She boosted her two-year career total to 515 strikeouts, breaking the Butler all-time record of 501 strikeouts set by Melissa Benter (2000-05).

The victory helped move the Bulldogs to within a half game of the league-leading Ramblers, who have a final league series at Detroit, May 7-8.  The league regular season champ will host the 2011 Horizon League Softball Championship, May 11-14.