Emma Tautges probably cheered louder than anyone in the Brainerd dugout when her twin sister, Olivia Tautges, scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Warriors a 10-0 victory over visiting Fergus Falls Tuesday, April 16.
Not only did the run end the Central Lakes Conference matchup by the 10-run rule, but it also meant Emma Tautges pitched the first perfect game for the Warriors in seven years.
"I was nervous," said Emma Tautges, who is believed to be the first Brainerd pitcher to toss a perfect game since Nikki Anderson banked Sauk Rapids-Rice 10-0 May 14, 2012. "I was thinking, okay, please get this game over."
The freshman pitcher collected 10 strikeouts against the Otters, who also managed just one hit in their 16-0 season-opening loss to Rocori. One of the Otters' hardest hit balls came from the first batter of Tuesday's game, Gretchen Davis, who lined the ball back at Emma Tautges who made the catch.
In the third inning, Davis lined out to third baseman Clare Ceynowa. But the best chance for a hit came in the top of the sixth when Gracee Albertson hit a ground ball wide of first base. It looked like a hit, but Warrior second baseman Sydnee Johnson made a diving stop and threw Albertson out at first on a close play.
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Warriors 10, Fergus Falls 0 (6 innings)
- Key: Freshman Emma Tautges struck out 10 in tossing a perfect game
- Conf: Brd 2-0, FF 0-2
- Overall: Brd 2-0, FF 0-2
- Next: Brainerd hosts Bemidji 4 p.m. Monday, April 22
- For more photos, go to https://bit.ly/2Isu9Xs.
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"Sydnee did a really nice job on that play," said Emma Tautges, whose team played errorless defense behind her. "I felt like I was ready today because I pitched two or three times a week all winter."
Only seven balls were put in play by Fergus Falls as Emma Tautges kept hitters off stride with her sinking fastball and change up.
"Emma hits her spots nine out of 10 times," said Brainerd coach Shane Jordan. "And her changeup is devastating."
Fergus Falls coach Lisa Truax agreed.
"(Tautges) kept us off balance and she had a nice mix of pitches," said Truax, who also complimented the Warriors offense. "(Brainerd) has good hitters who adjust at the plate as they hit pitches all across the zone. They will be a tough team in the conference."
The Warriors grabbed a quick lead with three runs in the bottom of the first. The first two runs came on the same play. Kasia Kroll scored from third on a wild pitch and Emma Korhonen also came home when the throw sailed past losing pitcher Rylynn Krein, who was covering home plate. Brainerd extended the lead to 3-0 on senior Jordyn Sullivan's homer over the center-field fence.
"I'm a first-pitch swinger because I'm most confident on the first pitch," Sullivan said. "And my home run came on the first pitch. It felt great."
Brainerd added four runs in the second inning. Kroll used her speed to again score on a wild pitch. Sullivan added an RBI single and later stole home to make it 6-0. The final run of the inning came when Olivia Hoelz singled home Olivia Tautges.
The Warriors added a run in the third when Kroll scored on Sullivan's sacrifice fly. Brainerd then ended the game in the sixth when Abby Pelowski walked and was replaced by pinch-runner Meghan Smith. Olivia Tautges singled to advance Smith, who then scored on an error on the play. Sydnee Johnson then singled home Olivia Tautges for the 10th run to end the game.
Emma Tautges was making just her second varsity start on the mound. She was called up to varsity late last season and allowed just three hits in a 7-0 win over St. Cloud Apollo in the final regular-season game May 17, 2018.
Brainerd finished with 12 hits, including two each by Korhonen, Ceynowa, Sullivan, Olivia Tautges and Sydnee Johnson.
The victory was important for Brainerd (2-0) in the Central Lakes Conference standings as it was a two-point matchup since the teams will not meet again this season.
For more photos of the Warrior Softball team's win over Fergus Falls, go to https://bit.ly/2Isu9Xs.
Fergus Falls 0 0 2
WP: Emma Tautges. LP: Rylynn Krein. 2B: Brd, Olivia Tautges, Clare Ceynowa (2). HR: Brd, Jordan Sullivan.