EL DORADO — It didn’t take long for the Jayhawk West softball champion to be determined. Going into the resumption of play in El Dorado Saturday, the Barton softball team needed a sweep of Butler to share a part of the West title.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, Butler won the completion of the first game and with it the conference title. Butler, ranked No. 6 in the NJCAA, won that completed opener 3-2 then beat the No. 9 ranked Cougars, 6-1 in the second game.
Barton is now 17-5 in the West and 46-6 overall. Butler is 21-1 and 41-4. Butler has now won 26 straight games dating back to a loss to Barton in the first game of a doubleheader in Great Bend.
The conference title is the sixth straight for the Grizzlies and the eighth in the past 10 seasons.
Trailing in the standings by two games, Barton had to sweep the contests for a share of the title. The first game resumed at 2-all in the fifth inning with Barton batting. The bases were loaded with two outs. The Cougars failed to score in the inning.
Butler produced a run on a pair of doubles in the sixth inning. That would prove to be the conference clincher as the Grizzlies held on for a 3-2 win in the opening game.
Errors were costly for the Cougars in the second game. Barton committed two in the first inning as Butler jumped to a 2-0 lead. Three more errors allowed the Grizzlies to increase that lead in the third inning to 4-0.
McKenna Mauler’s hit her 11th home run of the season in the fifth inning to cut the lead to 5-1.
That would be the lone run the Cougars would score as Butler limited them to just four hits in the loss.
The Cougars will close out their regular season Monday with a trip to Pratt for a make-up doubleheader rained out last week.
Barton will start Region VI play Friday in Wichita. The brackets will be released at the conclusion of the regular season. The Cougars will take the No. 2 seed into the tournament, which will mean a first round game with No. 7 Garden City.
Butler will be the top seed and get a first round bye in the tournament. The other half of Barton’s bracket will pit No. 3 Colby against either Seward or Pratt while the other half of Butler’s bracket will have No. 4 Dodge against either Seward or Pratt.