Bulldogs Drop Two One-Run Decisions

NASHVILLE, TENN. -- The Bulldogs turned in 12 solid innings in Nashville, Tenn., but two final innings losses spoiled Butler's 2012 softball opening day.  The Bulldogs dropped a 1-0 decision to host Lipscomb, before falling to Samford, 4-3, at the Lady Bison Round Robin on Saturday, Feb. 18.

Butler's season-opener at Lipscomb turned into a classic pitcher's duel.  Junior Jenny Esparza squared off against Lipscomb ace Whitney Kiihnl, and the two standout hurlers didn't disappoint.

Esparza, the 2011 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year, blanked the Lady Bison on one hit through six-and-two-thirds innings, striking out five and walking three.  But Lipscomb's Haley Elliott slammed a two-out, walk-off home run over the left field wall in the bottom of the seventh inning to break the deadlock.

Kiihnl went the distance for the Lady Bison and recorded her first no-hitter and her second shutout of the season.  The Lipscomb left-hander struck out 11 and walked just two.

Butler's bats came alive in the second game against Samford.  The Bulldogs, who fell behind on a solo home run in the top of the first inning, ripped three doubles in their first at-bat to tie the game.  Meaghan Sullivan led off the bottom of the first inning with a double to right-center and scored on a double by Lauren McNulty, who was out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.  Erin Falkenberry then doubled down the left field line, but was stranded when Alyssa Coleman lined out to third base.

The Bulldogs took their first lead of the Round Robin on McNulty's home run to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning, and Butler carried a 2-1 lead into the final inning.

Butler righthander Leah Bry, who shut out Samford on one hit after the first inning home run, surrendered four hits and three runs in the top of the seventh inning, and the final run proved to be decisive.  Butler answered with a single run in the bottom of the seventh on Jessica Huey's run-scoring double.

The Bulldogs finished with 10 hits, including four doubles and a home run.  Huey, McNulty, Falkenberry and Callie Dennison each had two hits for Butler.  Bry, who took the loss, had six strikeouts and three walks in six-and-a-third innings of work.

The Lady Bison Round Robin is scheduled to conclude on Sunday with each of the three teams playing two games.