March 31, 2005
Freshman Nikki Naffziger struck out 20 batters in a combined 11.2 innings of work Thursday afternoon, leading the Bulldogs to a doubleheader split against visiting Bellarmine at Butler Field in Indianapolis. Naffziger went the distance in a 6-0 first game win before the Knights rallied for a 3-2 decision in the nightcap. Butler is now 11-12 on the season, while Bellarmine is 11-15.
Naffziger allowed just four baserunners in the opening game, striking out 14 Knights in seven shutout innings. She improved to 8-4 on the season with her seventh complete game and third shutout. Bellarmine's first 10 outs of the game all came from strikeouts.
She got all the offense she needed in the bottom of the first thanks to rookie Jenny Jacobs. The freshman sent a drive to left center that even a strong wind blowing in couldn't keep in the park. The three-run shot scored JoAnna Gonzalez and Melissa Lemrick as well. The homer was Jacobs' fourth of the season, already tying Butler's single-season mark.
Butler plated a single run in the second when freshman Ashley Barry led off with a single and later scored on a Knights throwing error. Butler scored two runs in the fifth when junior Angie Johnson singled in Jacobs with two outs before Barry plated Johnson with a single of her own. Jacobs went 3-for-3, as she teamed up with Barry (two) and Johnson (one) to register all six of Butler's hits in the first game. Most of the damage came off Bellarmine starter Ashley Eppich (2-8), who allowed four runs in two innings of work.
In the second game, Bellarmine's Brittany Umphress got the visitors on the board first with a two-run single with one out in the top of the third. The two runs chased Butler starter Meghan Howard (0-4). Umphress scored later in the inning on a wild pitch by Naffziger, who entered in relief of Howard.
That would be the last time the Knights cracked the scoreboard. Naffziger struck out six and allowed just two hits over the next 4.2 innings.
Butler tried to rally in the bottom of the fourth. Jacobs, Amy Hyerczyk and Angie Johnson led off the inning with singles, with Johnson's base-knock scoring Jacobs to trim the lead to 3-1. Senior Maria Marchesano then singled in Hyerczyk. That gave the Bulldogs bases loaded with no one out, but Bellarmine starter Claire Horstman (8-6) got a strikeout and a pair of fielder's choices to get out of the jam. Eppich came on to pitch the last three innings, allowing just one hit and a walk in picking up her first save of the season.
Each team had six hits in the second game, with Lemrick leading the Butler effort with two. The Bulldogs left 10 runners on base.
Butler returns to action Saturday with a weekend series at Horizon League opponent Wright State in Dayton, Ohio.