Campus News · Sports

Grizzly softball speaks for itself

Brayden Oneal

Student Sports Media

The women’s softball team is 34-2. Those two losses come from splitting doubleheaders with Hutchison. Their first loss was on Sunday, March 5 where they lost 6-5 and went on to then beat Hutch 8-0 in the second game. Then, on Thursday, April 6, the Grizzlies lost 3-2 and beat Hutch, 12-11. They are on a 9-game win streak and have hit 65 home runs and a team batting average of .422 and scored 401 runs this season. Their largest margin of victory was against Bethany JV, 24-1. Their closest game was a 3-2 win against Murray State (Oklahoma) in a contest that went to eight innings.

“….. if you create an environment where the players are respected and treated like adults, you’re not yelling, screaming and cursing at them, you just basically turn them into the best version of them and allow them to play,” Head Coach Doug Chance said. “They’re not playing scared because we’re not gonna yell at them. … kids want to come to play for that.”

The Grizzlies sport a 12 freshman and 10 sophomore squad.

“Obviously, we want Kansas kids first,” Chance said. “And then we supplement that with Oklahoma and Texas, and we always play really strong and need to be strong up the middle, so those are our primary targets and we go recruit first. And then we supplement that with speed or power, but that isn’t my first priority. It is always strong pitching and good middle infielders.”

The Grizzlies have 14 players from Kansas: three from Texas, two from Missouri and one each from Nebraska, California and Colorado. Chance comes to Butler from Wichita East High School where he served as head coach of the Aces in 2004. Prior to coaching at East High, Chance served as an assistant coach at Wichita State University in 2002, and as an assistant coach at Friends University from 1998-to 2001. From 1991 to 1998, Chance coached six semi-pro baseball teams in the National Baseball Congress World Series. He helped the Wichita Sluggers record a third-place finish in the NBC World Series in 1996.

“My favorite thing is career development,” Chance said. “Recruiting is okay and in the games are ok, but honestly, if all I had to do is develop players in the weight room and develop their skill development, I’d be fine with that.”

Chance has coached the Grizzlies for 18 seasons and has a record of 724-173. His first season as head coach was in 2005.

“The biggest trick to coaching baseball or softball is getting kids’ minds out of the way, whether it’s his or her or even major league guys it doesn’t matter,” Chance said. “You have to get their mind out of the way of their ability, and too many times the coach is the person in the way of the ability because they’re yelling, screaming and kids are playing scared, scared to make a mistake, so the kid can get their mind out of the way. And that’s something that we’ve always gotten right. I’ve gotten a lot of things wrong. When it comes to player development, … we’re learning every year. But one thing I’ve always gotten right was giving the kids the ability to play without me being in their way.”

His coaching style has brought 11 NJCAA national championship appearances. They’ve won 10 consecutive KJCCC Championships and five straight Region VI Titles. He has been selected as KJCCC Coach of the Year 12 times during his tenure.

Also last year Butler finished first in the NJCAA in doubles with 149 and an on-base percentage of .500. They finished second in the NJCAA in batting average (.433), runs (634), RBIs (583) and runs against (121). Butler was ranked as high No. 2 during the season.

Chance also cares about how his players perform in the classroom. Butler softball has led the Jayhawk Conference in GPA four times (2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013). In 2019, Butler finished third among all NJCAA softball programs with a 3.67 GPA and had 10 players receive academic honors.

The playoffs stretch from Tuesday, May 3 through Saturday, May 28.

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