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Softball: Brainerd battles to an 11-1 win

Brainerd Warriors hosted the Willmar Cardinals

A softball player scoops up a ground ball.
Brainerd's Josie Kappes scoops up a ground ball against Willmar Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — It was all about battling for the Brainerd Warriors.

The unbeaten Warriors battled cold temperatures, 0-2 counts and a pesky Willmar Cardinals team to an 11-1 victory Thursday, April 28, at Adamson Field.

Brainerd forced Willmar pitcher Lily Reed into 91 pitches. The senior threw 59 strikes and 32 balls, but struggled to get outs in the first two innings.

The Warriors batted around in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Josie Kappes started things off after getting hit by a pitch. Oliva Tautges, Emma Tautges, Meghan Smith and Elsa Borchert rattled off consecutive singles. Mya Tautges followed by reaching on an error that scored Brainerd’s fourth and fifth runs.

“I like to be aggressive in the batter’s box, but their pitcher was throwing strikes,” Warriors head coach Shane Jordan said. “The pitches weren’t as fast as we’re used to, but they had a lot of spin on them. It challenged us in that manner. Sometimes it’s OK to be challenged in a different way. I thought we did a good job. I thought when we got behind 0-2 in the count we took good team swings and kept the ball in play.”

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Olivia Tautges started the second inning with a single followed by singles from Emma Tautges, Smith and Borchert. Maren Ceynowa hit the only extra-base hit of the game when she doubled in two more runs for a 10-0 lead after two.

In contrast to Reed’s rough start, Emma Tautges was in control of the circle. The senior needed just 60 pitches, 41 for strikes to cruise through 5 innings. She allowed four singles and one walk and struck out five.

“It felt good out there,” Tautges said. “I was excited to pitch at home for the first time this year. I was comfortable. I’ve been pitching here since I was in the eighth grade and I’m trying to hold myself to a higher standard so I do hit my spots.”

Willmar’s one run came in the top of the fourth. Lexi Owens recorded a two-out single. Muri Enstad walked and Hannah Magnuson singled in Owens for the lone run.

“I just told myself that things like that happen,” Tautges said. “I just keep reminding myself that I can improve my pitching all the time.”

Tautges then struck out two in the final inning, including leadoff hitter Zoe Schroeder to end the game in the top of the fifth. Tautges appreciated the defense behind her. Smith gunned down two batters from her third base position and Josie Kappes hauled in a long fly ball to center field

“Every pitcher needs a good defense,” Emma Tautges said. “If you don’t have a good defense you don’t have a team.

“I think our confidence is pretty good, but we also need to, not humble ourselves, but remember that anybody can win a game and anybody can lose a game.”

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In the bottom of the fourth, Sophie Mattson smashed a two-out single. Ella Chaussee and Molly Weiland both hit pinch-hit singles, with Weiland’s driving in the 11th run.

“There has to be a balance with your substitutions, but we have three levels, but we’re one team and we have to play that way,” Jordan said. “Whenever someone’s name is called they have to be ready to go. We’ve talked about roles and what people’s roles are going to be and when you get called to go in the batter’s box you better go get a hit and you better practice being ready for when your name is called.”

Willmar 1 4 1

Brainerd 11 12 0

WP: Emma Tautges. LP: Lily Reed. 2B: Brd-Maren Ceynowa.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

Warriors 11, Willmar 1

Key: Warriors score five runs in the first two innings

Conference: Brd 3-0, Will 1-3-1.

Overall: Brd 6-0, Will, 1-3-1.

Next: Brainerd at Alexandria 5 p.m. Friday, April 29.

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