College softball: Butler rallies in extra innings to win its first conference title
Butler captured the BIG EAST title and the first NCAA Tournament berth in program history with a thrilling 10-8 victory over St. John's in eight innings in the championship game of the BIG EAST Tournament at the Ballpark at Rosemont.
Butler will learn its NCAA Tournament destination Sunday night with the Selection Show airing at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.
BUTLER WINS THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP! https://t.co/smj6YJkgUK— BIG EAST Champs (@BIGEASTchamps) May 14, 2016
For the second day in a row, Butler's win would be of the come-from-behind variety as St. John's took a 6-0 lead after two innings. The Bulldogs began the comeback in the top of the fifth inning as freshmanCheyenne Thompson sent a drive over the center field wall for a two-run homer.
In the sixth, Riley Carter singled in a run with one out. Kaitlin Doud scored on a wild pitch to pull Butler within 6-4. Senior Krosley Ogden singled in Thompson and Carter to tie the game before Tournament Most Outstanding Player Sarah Dixon homered to right field for an 8-6 lead.
That score would carry into the bottom of the seventh. Two singles started the inning for St. John's and coach Scott Hall had Kristin Gutierrez re-enter the game. She started the game and gave way to Mikeila Boroff in the second inning.
St. John's would get a double and groundout to tie the game, leaving a runner at third with only one out. Butler intentionally loaded the bases and induced two popouts to send the game to extra innings.
In the eighth, Brandyce Sallee doubled to right center, scoring two. In the bottom half of the inning, St. John's had two on and two out before Gutierrez got a flyout to end the game and create a jubilant pile-up behind the second base bag.
Butler is now 28-22 on the season and Gutierrez picked up her 11th win of the season. Dixon and Gutierrez were joined on the All-Tournament Team by Doud and Carter.
Butler had eight hits on the afternoon with the first one being Thompson's home run in the top of the fifth.
The Bulldogs won the BIG EAST title in the first tournament appearance in its three seasons in the BIG EAST (the format brings the top four teams together for a single-elimination event). This is Butler's second championship since joining the BIG EAST, joining the 2015 women's soccer team. Butler entered the tournament as the fourth seed, defeating top-seeded DePaul Friday before knocking off third-seeded St. John's Saturday.