Butler Falls In Final Georgia Tournament Game

Senior Jenny Esparza

ATLANTA, GA. -- Butler's bid for its first 2013 softball victory came up short when Missouri State rallied for five runs in its final three innings to take a 5-2 decision on the final day of the Georgia Tech/Kennesaw State Invitational.  The Bulldogs left the three-day tournament in Atlanta, Ga., with an 0-5 record.

The news wasn't all bad for the Bulldogs.  Senior pitcher Jenny Esparza, coming back from an injury, pitched three no-hit, no-run innings to start the game.  The Butler righthander had four strikeouts and no walks and allowed just one base-runner in her three-inning stint.

Butler took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on singles by Cassie Rupel and Alex Kotter and a run-scoring ground-out by Meaghan Sullivan.  The Bulldogs threatened again later in the inning, but Kotter was thrown out at the plate to end the frame.

The Butler lead stood until the third inning, when the Bears struck for three runs on three hits off of Butler relief pitcher Kristin Gutierrez (0-3).  Caitlin Chapin tied the game with a solo home run, the Bears' first hit of the game, and Ali Trickey later scored the go-ahead run with a steal of home.  The Bears' final run scored on a sacrifice fly.

The Bulldogs did close to within a single run in the fifth inning, when Sullivan drove in Rupel for the second time.  But the Bears pulled away with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth frame.

Rupel finished with three hits in the game, while Maria Leighty added a pair.  Sophomore Kristin Boros had Butler's lone extra-base hit with a double in the sixth inning.

Butler will take a week off before returning to action at the Tennessee State Invitational, Feb. 23-24.  The Bulldogs will face local foe IUPUI in the opening game of the tournament.