SECTION 8-3A SOFTBALL: Brainerd doesn’t let Storm make noise
When it’s the single-elimination round in the postseason, and you’re the No. 1 seed, you don’t want to give an opponent any hope for an upset.
The top-seeded and unbeaten Brainerd Warriors aggressively took care of No. 9 Sauk Rapids-Rice in Wednesday’s Section 8-3A tournament second round as they blanked the Storm 10-0 in five innings at Adamson Field.
Brainerd, ranked eighth in Class 3A, scored five times in the first and five times in the bottom of the fifth to bring the mercy rule into effect.
“Every game we always go in intense,” said Warriors designated hitter Alanna Hansen, who was 2-for-3. “We always go in with the same attitude as if it was conference, just take another game and one game at a time.”
Brainerd’s game didn’t start until about 6:15 p.m. after the Storm eliminated No. 8 Sartell 7-4 in the first round. Single elimination, and the later start, made Warriors coach Mike Zauhar a little restless.
“It’s single elimination so you’re always concerned about that,” he said. “Then you don’t start until about 6 o’clock, so you’re down here at 4 (p.m.) waiting around. It’s always a concern, but our kids were very focused.
“We came ready to play, the entire crew. You could just tell in warm-ups. I was just really pleased with their effort.”
Left-hander Nikki Anderson tossed another gem as she allowed just two hits, both singles to right, in the third. She struck out five, walked none, and threw just nine balls in 52 pitches.
Anderson, who has allowed one earned run and seven walks all season, was backed by 12 hits, including two apiece from Hansen, Ashley Tibbetts, Ali Beadle, Carlie Sweet and Alyssa Thoennes.
She also was the beneficiary of errorless fielding, including nice grabs by Beadle at third base and Jenni Smolke at first, and aggressive baserunning (six stolen bases).
“Good hitting, good pitching, good defense, Chelsie Manton did a nice job at short, she was very aggressive,” Zauhar said. “Ali Beadle made a nice pickup at third, and Smolke ... we had some good defensive plays.
“That’s what we’re going to need, total effort, defense, pitching, offense, and we got it today.”
Hansen’s long two-run double highlighted the five-run first. Karlie Manton and Thoennes contributed RBI singles to sustain the eruption.
“My first hit, I just jumped on the ball after hitting a couple foul over the left field fence, I just jumped on the ball right away,” Hansen said. “And, I got a good lead on the bases. My intent is to get on base every time so I can steal. I like to run the bases.”
Hansen finished with two runs scored, two stolen bases and three RBIs. She added a run-scoring single in the five-run fifth.
“My second hit I wanted to start driving in runs because we were starting to get into a slump a little bit,” Hansen said. “I needed to pick up the team, and I just stepped up a little.”
Also in the seventh, Karlie Manton delivered a sacrifice fly and the last three runs scored on two errors.
Sauk Rapids 000 00 — 0 2 2
Brainerd 500 05 — 10 12 0
(2 out in fifth when winning runs scored)
Sauk Rapids: Theresa Statz and Alex Gerchy.
Brainerd: Nikki Anderson and Carlie Sweet.
W: Anderson (18-0). L: Statz.
2B: Alanna Hansen (B), Ali Beadle (B)
SB: Karlie Manton (B), Bailey O’Hotto (B), Hansen 2, Alyssa Thoennes (B), Chelsie Manton (B)
SF: Karlie Manton
RBIs: Karlie Manton 2, Hansen 3, Thoennes
LOB: SR 2, Brd 4
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.