Senior Lindsay Schluge drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the tenth inning to lead Butler to a 3-2 victory over visiting Horizon League foe Valparaiso in the first game of a doubleheader at the Butler Softball Field on Thursday (April 23). The Crusaders bounced back with a 12-2 win in five innings in the nightcap to avoid a three-game sweep.
Schluge's game-winner ended Butler's longest contest of the season and gave the Bulldogs (21-25, 10-10 Horizon League) just their second extra-inning victory. It also gave the Bulldogs their second straight final inning win, following a 4-3 come-from-behind decision over the Crusaders one day earlier.
Freshman Erin Falkenberry opened the bottom of the tenth inning with a walk, and she advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Alyssa Coleman. A wild pitch advanced Falkenberry to third, and after a walk and stolen base by freshman Lauren McNulty, Schluge followed with a ground ball to shortstop that plated the winning run.
Both teams had a lead in the game, before ending in a deadlock through seven innings. Valparaiso jumped in front, 1-0, on a run-scoring single by Alex Lagesse off of Butler starter Lauren Ott. But the Bulldogs answered in the bottom of the fourth inning on a solo home run by Coleman. The line drive shot over the centerfield fence was Coleman's first collegiate round-tripper.
The Bulldogs made it 2-1 in the fifth inning on a run-scoring ground-out by senior Alex Boros. Freshman Paige Ashton had started the inning with a single, and she advanced to second base on an error by rightfielder Ashley Wolter. Ashton then took third on a wild pitch, before scoring on the ground-out. Valparaiso tied the game in the sixth inning on a solo home run by Joylyn Ichiyama.
Junior Kristen Malinkey, who came on in relief of Ott in the sixth inning, blanked the Crusaders over the final four innings to pick up her second win in as many days. She improved to 5-5 on the year, allowing just three hits and striking out three in four and a third innings of work.
The Crusaders (24-19, 9-8 HL) exploded for five runs in the top of the first inning in the second game and continued scoring in each of the next three innings to claim the run-shortened contest. Butler scored twice in the second inning on an infield ground-out by Mallory Winters and an infield single by Schluge.
Boros and sophomore Erin Jackson led the Bulldogs with three hits apiece on the afternoon, while Schluge finished with two hits.
The Bulldogs will close out the regular season at home with a three-game Horizon League series against Youngstown State, beginning on Saturday, April 25, at 1 p.m.