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Softball: Tautges, Warriors shut out Royals to advance

Brainerd hosted Rogers in Section 8-4A semifinals

Brainerd's Josie Kappes makes it safely into third base against Rogers Thursday, May 26, 2022, in the Section 8-4A playoffs at Brainerd.
Brainerd's Josie Kappes makes it safely into third base against Rogers Thursday, May 26, 2022, in the Section 8-4A playoffs at Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Sophie Mattson is the envy of the Brainerd lakes area.

In front of a packed Adamson Field, Thursday, May 26, in Brainerd, Mattson had the best seat in the house to watch the smoke show that is Olivia Tautges in the circle for the top-seeded Warriors.

Tautges struck out six and scattered three hits over seven innings to pitch the unbeaten Warriors (22-0) into the Section 8-4A Winner’s Bracket Championship game thanks to a 4-0 victory over No. 4 seeded Rogers.

It’s not like Mattson doesn’t have her hands full catching the multiple moving pitches Tautges flings at her.

“She has a lot of movement and it’s sometimes very difficult,” Mattson said about catching Tautges. “Not a lot of pitchers have movement and she’s fast, but it’s really fun. She has a good work ethic.”

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Tautges retired the first 10 batters she faced before No. 2 hitter Kami Messner laced a triple down the right field line. Brainerd’s Kasia Kroll dove for it and just missed. It was Tautges’ first allowed hit of the playoffs.

A ground out and a strikeout ended Rogers’ best threat to plate a run.

“The two-seamer outside pitch was working,” Mattson said. “We always call for high and fast and those were in his (umpire's) strike zone.”

Sophie Mattson
Sophie Mattson
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Tautges threw 87 pitches and 61 were for strikes. Prior to Thursday’s game, Tautges had pitched 78 innings and allowed 41 hits. She struck out 147 batters and walked just 27. She owned a 0.897 ERA.

“I’m always nervous, but I have complete faith in every one of our kids on this team,” Warriors head coach Shane Jordan said. "It’s nice to have Olivia in the circle, but we play great defense behind her, too. Every time the ball is put into play, we have complete faith in our defense and I know she has faith in them, too.”

Rogers’ Sara Kemmetmueller doubled in the fifth but a flyout to Kroll and a pop-up to Maren Ceynowa at second ended the inning. The Royals produced a two-out single in the sixth, but Tautges struck out the next batter.

Needing just three outs to advance, Tautges induced two groundouts and a strikeout to send the Royals into the Loser’s Bracket.

“Our defense is great,” Mattson said. “When they make a good play it’s just exciting. Our defense is really good and they make the hard plays.”

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Josie Kappes created all the offense the Warriors needed. She led off the bottom of the first inning with a single and scored on an Emma Tautges blast to the shortstop that was mishandled. Emma Tautges’ may have put a bit more spice on the swing as Rogers intentionally walked Olivia Tautges right before her.

In the third, Kappes led off with a triple and scored on Kroll’s bloop single over the infield.

Kappes finished 2-4 with two runs scored.

“Josie’s speed and grit are amazing,” Jordan said. “She and Kasia worked really hard (Wednesday) and that’s what she does. She causes chaos and I’m just really proud of her because I know she’s worked really hard the last couple of weeks to do what she did today.”

Elsa Borchert led off the fourth inning with a double and later scored on an error of a Kappes swing.

Brainerd’s fourth and final run came after Olivia Tautges walked. Abby Hillman pinch ran for her and scored on Megan Smith’s single.

“Yes, the nerves are building,” Mattson said. “We’re playing better teams and now if you win or lose it matters. We have confidence. We know we can make the hard plays and we know if we get behind we can come back and hit.”

Jack Freeman, Brainerd Warriors activities director, fielded a call late Thursday about the bracket for the Tuesday, May 31, games. Brainerd will host the winner of St. Michael-Albertville and Elk River, but what time and how many games occur in Brainerd before that game could be changed.

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“This is something that nobody has ever done before with this Warrior softball program,” Jordan said. “I think you have to embrace this and celebrate it and do everything you can to teach these kids to play this game between the lines and to give them life lessons of what this game teaches us. Whatever happens, will happen and they’ve earned everything they’ve gotten so far.”

Rogers 0 3 2

Brainerd 4 7 0

WP: Olivia Tautges. LP: Brianna Ness. 2B: Brd-Elsa Borchert; R-Sara Kemmetmueller. 3B: Brd-Josie Kappes; R-Kamryn Messer.

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

Warriors 4, Rogers 0

Key: Olivia Tautges scattered three hits and stuck out six

Section: Brd 11-0, R 4-3

Overall: Brd 22-0, R 13-7

Next: Brainerd vs. St. Michael/Albertville-Elk River winner in Section 8-4A Winner’s bracket championship TBA Tuesday, May 31.

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