By Joseph Staszewski
St. John’s picked itself up off the mat, but still fell short of lifting a championship trophy for a second straight year.
The Red Storm softball team, which led by four runs after five frames, needed to score twice in the bottom of the seventh to send the Big East Championship game to extra innings. But Butler ultimately won the game at The Ballpark at Rosemont Saturday, by a score of 10-8.
St. John’s led 6-2 going into the top of the sixth, in which Butler scored six runs on three hits to grab an 8-6 lead. The defending champion Red Storm (29-20) refused to let their season end there.
Brittney Garcia drove in Yvonne Rericha with a double to center field. In the next at-bat, Krystal Puga tied the score at 8-8 with an RBI ground out to plate Monique Landini and force extra innings. Butler didn’t wait long to reclaim the lead and the game. Brandyce Sallee’s two-run double put the Bulldogs, who walked twice in the frame, ahead for good in the eighth.
St. John’s didn’t go down without a fight. It brought the winning run to plate in the bottom of the inning, but Butler reliever Kristin Gutierrez was able to get Puga to fly out to end the game. Gutierrez picked up the win after allowing six runs on five hits on three innings of relief.
Red Storm starter Grace Kramer struggled in defeat. She struck out seven, but surrendered nine runs on eight hits and walked seven in eight innings of work.
The game looked like it was going to be a St. John’s rout early after it led 6-0 after just two innings, thanks to a five-run first. The frame was highlighted by Christina Melendez’s first career grand slam. A Monique Landini sac fly in the second made it 6-0, but the Red Storm would not score again until the seventh.
Yvonne Rericha went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and Savannah Warren added two hits for SJU, which was appearing in its third straight title game. Butler (28-22) put two runs on the board in the fifth before exploding an inning later en route to claiming this year’s crown. St. John’s reached the final by shutting out Villanova 10-0 in the opening round.