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High School Softball: Warriors ready to finally open season

Brainerd Warriors softball coach Shane Jordan doesn't consider it a disadvantage to have more than three weeks of practice before his team's season opener.

Brainerd Warrior pitcher Jillian Ewald delivers during practice this week at Don Adamson Field. Steve Kohls/ Brainerd Dispatch
Brainerd Warrior pitcher Jillian Ewald delivers during practice this week at Don Adamson Field. Steve Kohls/ Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd Warriors softball coach Shane Jordan doesn't consider it a disadvantage to have more than three weeks of practice before his team's season opener.

The Warriors, who are scheduled to open Tuesday, April 11, at Alexandria, started workouts March 17, one week later than permissible due to Brainerd's spring break.

"Sometimes being indoors can feel long," Jordan said, "but it's been nice outside. It's helped us being outside. We've had a couple of scrimmages against Pierz and Pequot Lakes and that helps break up the monotony a little bit.

"But any time I can spend on the softball field with these girls is good. I would like our season to be six months longer if it could. I just enjoy being there. I enjoy the kids. They're all wonderful kids. They work hard and they're coachable kids, so it's fun."

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Brainerd Warriors

  • Head coach: Shane Jordan, third year
  • 2016 record: 12-2 Central Lakes Conference, 17-6 overall
  • Returning starters: Jillian Ewald P, Jordyn Sullivan P, Kylie Lange RF, Lexi Roby SS, Elaina Christiansen (C), Cassidy Zontelli 2B
  • Assistant coaches: Tim Hill, Amy Aho, Kevin Johnson, Amy Holm, Angela Jelinski
  • Volunteer coaches: Dave Ellingson, Darwin "Doc" Johnson, Dawn Evans, Nikki Anderson
  • Captains: Jillian Ewald, Richelle Bjork, Kylie Lange. 

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Brainerd returns six members of last year's team that was the Central Lakes Conference runner-up and finished 17-6 overall, losing in the third round of the Section 8-4A playoffs.

Pitchers Jillian Ewald, a senior, and Jordyn Sullivan, a sophomore, are back. Ewald compiled a 6-1 mark on the mound, Sullivan was 6-3.

"Both worked incredibly hard throughout the winter, pitching in and out of town, and with pitching coaches," Jordan said. "Both have come in stronger and throwing harder than last year. We've had some great competition here throughout the spring.

"I'm expecting that Jillian will start the first game because she's a senior. I think both of them are going to be highly successful for our team this year."

Three of the Warriors' top three hitters return, including junior catcher Elaina "Bootsie" Christiansen, who batted .518 with 25 RBIs and scored 31 runs.

"I truly believe, she's as good as any player in the state at the plate," Jordan said. "She's got a coach's dream of a swing, a coach's dream of an attitude. She's tenacious, she works so hard. She wants to hit the ball as hard as she can every time. She runs as hard as she can. She's a coach's dream no matter what she's doing, whether she's behind or at the plate."

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In 2016, junior shortstop Lexi Roby hit .461 with 32 RBIs and 36 runs scored.

"Lexi worked hard last summer, playing with the Minnesota Moose," Jordan said. "She worked on her swing, to get her swing quicker. I'm excited to see how much she's progressed with her swing. She looks great this spring so far."

Senior right fielder Kylie Lange batted .377 with 20 RBIs and 22 runs scored. She will will play at Moorhead State next year.

"The future's bright for her," Jordan said. "She had a great offseason, working on her swing, working on her arm, working on her defense. I'm excited for her at the plate as well."

Rounding out the Warriors' lineup:

  • Left field: Hanna Degen, senior. She played in eight games and batted .417.
  • Center field: Sadie Jordan, senior. She played in four games and batted .600.
  • Third base: Mykala Griffin, senior. She made one plate appearance in 2016.
  • First base: Richelle Bjork, senior. She played in 12 games with a .357 average.
  • Second base: Junior Cassidy Zontelli, who batted .343, or senior Vanessa Britton.

Jordan said freshman Clare Ceynowa is competing for playing time somewhere.
"By the time she's done, she'll be really good," he said. "She has a strong arm, a tremendous bat. I'm excited to watch her hit. She's young, she's still learning the game a little bit, but I think she will find a way into our lineup."

Brainerd will play five doubleheaders-the same as last year-and will have only 13 game days.

"I actually enjoy doubleheaders, especially because we have two good pitchers," Jordan said. "I suppose if we didn't have pitching my feeling might be different. But I enjoy doubleheaders. It's good to go somewhere or have a team at home. You learn a lot about your team in two games."

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Jordan's goal every season is to compete for conference and section championships. This season is no different.

"I like our chances every game because we've got good pitching and good catching and that's where it all starts," he said. "I'm excited to see how this team comes together as a team. If they're willing to work together, and if everyone's willing to accept their roles on the team, then I think the sky's the limit for this team."

 

Roster

No., name, year, position

1-Cassidy Zontelli, Jr, IF

2-Hanna Degen, Sr, OF

4-Kylie Lange, Sr, OF

5-Jordyn Sullivan, Soph, P/IF

6-Lexi Roby, Jr, IF

7-Jillian Ewald, Sr, P

8-Richelle Bjork, Sr, IF

9-Vanessa Britton, Sr, IF

10-Mykala Griffin, Sr, IF

13-Clare Ceynowa, Fr, C/IF

16-Jaden Veith, Jr, IF/OF

17-Sadie Jordan, Sr, OF

23-Elaina Christiansen, Jr, C/OF

25-Kelsey Stroot, Jr, OF

Megan Tschida, mgr

 

Schedule

April 11, at Alexandria 5 p.m.

April 18, at Rocori 4 p.m. (2)

Apr 20, at Moorhead 4 p.m. (2)

April 22, Brainerd Invitational

April 25, Sartell 5 p.m.

April 28, at St. Cloud Tech 5 p.m.

May 2, Sauk Rapids 4 p.m. (2)

May 4, at Sartell 5 p.m.

May 5, Bemidji 5 p.m.

May 9, at Willmar 4 p.m. (2)

May 12, St. Cloud Apollo 4 p.m. (2)

May 16, St. Cloud Tech 5 p.m.

May 18, Fergus Falls 5 p.m.

Related Topics: BRAINERD WARRIORS
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