Bulldogs Bid Ends At Valparaiso

Bulldogs Bid Ends At Valparaiso

VALPARAISO, IND. -- Butler's bid to capture the 2012 Horizon League Softball Championship came to an end on Friday, May 11, at the VU Softball Field.  The fifth-seeded Bulldogs, who began the tournament with a pair of upsets, were eliminated with losses to No. 2 seed Loyola, 9-1, and to top-seeded Valparaiso, 3-2, in eight innings.

Butler, one of two unbeaten teams entering the third day of competition, ran into a pair of strong pitching performances.  Loyola's Brittany Gardner and Valparaiso's Alex Lagesse limited the Bulldogs to just 11 hits and three runs in the two contests.

The two setbacks left the Bulldogs with a 25-32 record on the season.  Butler began the tournament with upsets of No. 4 seed Youngstown State and top-seeded Valparaiso.

Game 1 - Loyola 9, Butler 1 (6 innings)
Gardner, who pitched a no-hitter against Green Bay in Loyola's first game of the league tournament, threw six strong innings to handcuff the Bulldogs.  The Loyola lefthander had 14 strikeouts in a game that had just 18 outs!

Loyola (26-21) took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run single by Jessica Balzano.  The Ramblers stretched the margin to 4-0, before Butler broke through with a single run in the fifth frame.  Shortstop Kayla Gray singled, advanced to second on a walk to Megan Gray and then scored Butler's lone run on Meaghan Sullivan's double to centerfield.

The Ramblers finished the contest with a five-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning, ending the game on the eight-run rule.

Butler managed seven hits off of Gardner, including three by Sullivan.  Sophomore Leah Bry, Butler's starter in the game, pitched three-and-a-third innings and took the loss for the Bulldogs.

Game 2 - Valparaiso 3, Butler 2 (8 innings)
Valparaiso scored an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 deadlock and advance to the league tournament title game against Loyola.

The Crusaders (40-17) loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning on a double, an intentional walk and an error.  Pinch-runner Haley Bridwell then scored the game-winner on an infield error.

Valparaiso took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but the Bulldogs tied the game in the fifth when senior Lauren McNulty reached on a fielding error, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single up the middle by Megan Gray.

The home team went back on top in the bottom of the fifth frame, but the Bulldogs tied the game again on a single by Sullivan and McNulty's double to left-center.  Butler had runners on base in the seventh and eighth innings, but the Bulldogs couldn't push across the lead run.

The Bulldogs had just four hits off of Lagesse, who had eight strikeouts while pitching a complete game.  Senior Breanna Fisher pitched the first five-and-a-third innings for the Bulldogs, before giving way to Bry, who suffered the loss.