Warrior Softball: Anderson, Brainerd shut down Eagles
Nikki Anderson hit more St. Cloud Apollo Eagles than hit her.
She was OK with that and so were the Brainerd Warriors who swept their Central Lakes Conference opponent Tuesday at Adamson Field in Brainerd 11-1 and 4-0.
The wins pushed Brainerd’s conference unbeaten streak to 23 games. It’s a streak that began May 14, 2010.
Brainerd is 8-0 this season in the CLC.
“I feel like all the girls know that we have such a good record,” said Anderson. “We want to really keep that up because it is so important to us. Last year, we did an amazing job. It was the first time undefeated and we want to keep that up. We want to go a second time undefeated and hopefully next year they’ll go a third time because we really want to keep that up.”
Anderson did her damage on the mound and at the plate Tuesday.
The senior struck out seven in Game One and went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and a double.
“I’m a lot more comfortable than I was in the years past,” said Anderson about batting. “My coaches have really built up my confidence and so have my teammates. So I want to do everything I can to get runs on the board for our team.”
In Game Two, she struck out 10, including three straight to end a bases-loaded, fifth-inning threat.
“It was a tough situation,” said Anderson. “We were only up by two and I knew I was not letting them get in. I just had that set in my mind. I just thought, we’re going to go out by out. I’m going to pitch what I pitch and we’re going to get some ground balls or some strikeouts and I just went up on the mound and threw what I could throw.
“It was nerve-wracking, though.”
Anderson allowed a total of three hits and the one earned run. She walked none, but did hit five Apollo batters.
“They stood in the box a little and when girls stand in the box I throw the ball inside,” said Anderson. “I take it as that’s my plate and I’m going to push you off. That’s what I was doing and unfortunately I got some hands and a couple of guts.”
The Warriors exploded for a seven-run fourth inning to end the first game early.
Anderson led off the inning with a double. Mikaela Chandler drove in pinch-runner Courtney O’Hotto. Chelsie Manton and Anderson each hit two-run singles and Hannah Kangas ended the bombardment with an RBI single.
“We have a number of kids swinging a good bat, especially at the bottom of our order,” said Warriors head coach Mike Zauhar. “We have two sophomores hitting like seniors in (Maria) West and (Sara) Wennerstrand.
“What’s really nice is we’re able to move some people around. (Nikki) DeChaine’s hand is really bruised bad and Wennerstand can catch. Mikaela Chandler comes in to play first. So it’s nice to be versatile.”
Manton started Brainerd’s scoring in the first as she walked, moved to second on an error and scored on Anderson’s RBI single.
The Warrior female athlete of the year drove in a run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly. Anderson and Kangas followed with RBI singles to give Brainerd a 4-0 advantage.
Manton was 1-1 with two walks, two runs and three RBIs. Wennerstrand was 2-2 with two runs scored.
Like in the opener, Manton walked in the opening inning and scored on Kangas’ RBI single to give Brainerd an early 1-0 lead.
The Warriors built it to 2-0 in the second when Wennerstrand singled and later scored on Maria West’s RBI single.
Apollo threatened in the fifth. Melissa Gebhardt reached on an error and was followed by back-to-back bunt singles from Amber Karnik and Allie Thelen.
That’s when Anderson struck out the next three to end the threat.
“That was huge,” said Zauhar. “Nikki Anderson really came through for us in that inning. They score one or two in that inning and it’s a whole different game. Thank God we have the pitcher we do.”
In the sixth, West reached on a single and Bailey O’Hotto on a fielder’s choice. Manton singled them both in for the final score.
“The first game I thought we played pretty well,” said Zauhar. “We were on top of our game both offensively and defensively. We put it all together in the doubleheader. It’s tough to win two. The second game we struggled a little bit, but we maintained.
“All and all, two wins and in the conference that puts us at 23 (straight) conference wins, which is fantastic. We’re just growing as a team.”
Apollo 000 10 — 1 1 2
Brainerd 130 7x — 11 10 1
Apollo: Caitlyn Pederson and Liz Lowery. Brainerd: Nikki Anderson and Nikki DeChaine.
WP: Anderson. LP: Pederson.
SB: Brd-Bailey O’Hotto, Sara Wennerstrand
Sac: Brd-Chelsie Manton
RBIs: Brd-Manton 3, Anderson 4, Hannah Kangas 2, Mikaela Chandler
LOB: Brd 9, SCA 5
Brainerd 110 002 0 — 4 9 2
Apollo 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
Apollo: Amelia Walz and Liz Lowery. Brainerd Anderson and DeChaine, Sara Wennerstrand (3).
WP: Anderson. LP: Walz.
2B: Brd-Anderson, Paige Lothert
SB: Brd-Chelsie Manton
RBIs: Brd-Manton 2, Hannah Kangas, Maria West
LOB: Brd 9, SCA 4
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.